Vikes have no choice but to fight for Favre

Here is one thing I think we can conclude from Monday's reports that Brett Favre won't play in 2010: The Minnesota Vikings really did take a blind leap of faith by standing pat this offseason at the quarterback position. I always assumed they had some kind of handshake agreement to report sometime in mid-August, but it's now clear that the Vikings were just like the rest of us in assuming that Favre would eventually come around and play another season.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said Tuesday afternoon that Favre hadn't told him he planned to retire and called the decision "fluid." So all bets are off right now. It's clear the Vikings are going to fight until the end.


They have no choice.

As we noted last month, the Vikings put themselves in position to walk a dangerous tightrope with Favre, leaving their 2010 fortunes in the hands of a man who might not have been as predictable as they thought. They refused to enter the bidding for a very available Donovan McNabb, did not draft a quarterback who will be ready to play anytime soon and crafted a backup plan that called for them to start the quarterback whose slow development necessitated Favre's arrival in the first place.

As we discussed a few minutes ago, I consider the Vikings to be walking the tightrope in the present tense. It's silly to consider this story done.

Even if it is, I won't change my predicted order of finish in the NFC North:

1. Green Bay Packers

2. Minnesota Vikings

3. Chicago Bears

4. Detroit Lions

What I will say, however, is that if Favre does in fact retire, the Vikings will have been grossly negligent for placing so much of their faith in him without a better alternative. I think they will be the second-best team in the division with Tarvaris Jackson, but I wouldn't call them a lock for the playoffs. Don't forget that it was Gus Frerotte, not Jackson, who put the Vikings in playoff position two years ago by winning eight of his 11 starts.

Jackson reclaimed his starting job at the end of that season but succumbed to the pressure of a wild-card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Even if he has matured and developed since then, nothing about Jackson's four-year career suggests he's ready to take over a playoff-caliber team and take it to the Super Bowl. And let's not even discuss Sage Rosenfels, who has had such a rough training camp that the Vikings might have had a hard time trading him if and when Favre returned.

So a Favre retirement would leave the Vikings right where they were two years ago, with a talented veteran team missing a quarterback that can take it to the Super Bowl. Actually, they would be worse off. All of the talented veteran players are two years older. And there hasn't been a Super Bowl yet.

Now you know why Childress considers the situation fluid. The alternative isn't pretty.