This season, quarterback Brett Favre has played through sharp shoulder pain, elbow tendinitis, two fractures in his left foot, 12 stitches in his chin and an illness he likened to pneumonia. So should we consider the possibility of any other outcome from his sprained right shoulder? I'm not sure yet. We all know Favre will be lobbying to play -- and extend his consecutive games streak to 298. But interim coach Leslie Frazier will face the most difficult decision of his short tenure. This isn't a quarterback hobbling around on a bum ankle. If the injury limits Favre's effectiveness as a thrower, Frazier will have to give serious thought to sitting him, ending the streak and making history. Welcome to the captain's chair, Leslie.
Frazier showed some savvy last week in hiding the decision to get rookie quarterback Joe Webb onto the field. I guess we won't know what would have happened if receiver Percy Harvin hadn't fallen ill with migraine headaches, but Webb returned the opening kickoff 30 yards and was apparently slated to play some at receiver before a hamstring injury sidelined him. As you recall, Webb was originally drafted as a receiver/playmaker and wasn't regarded as a quarterback prospect by most NFL teams. But former coach Brad Childress switched him back to quarterback, a move that conveniently allowed him to trade veteran Sage Rosenfels, and ultimately this has been a lost year for the rookie. The chances of him developing into a multi-positional playmaker are much higher than becoming a starting NFL quarterback, and it was past time to push him in the former direction.
In the past two games under new leadership, the Vikings defense has limited its opponents to combined 20 first downs and 455 yards while forcing six turnovers. In both games, the defensive line has absolutely throttled its opponents. Sunday, the Vikings sacked Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick once, but unofficially hit him on five other occasions. They also limited the Bills to a 3.7-yard average on 23 rushing attempts. Frazier and linebackers coach Fred Pagac, who is making game-day calls, have infused some life into this group.
And here is one issue I don't get:
Readers are flooding my inbox with hope-filled messages about backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who finished Sunday's game with an 85.0 passer rating after replacing Favre. I don't get it. I agree that Jackson made some nice throws and once again displayed his mobility in critical times. But he also threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and was assisted on both of his touchdown passes by acrobatic receiver Sidney Rice. I didn't think Jackson's performance suggested he has made significant progress during his time behind Favre, and a quarterback in his fifth season shouldn't benefit from a grading curve that allows us to overlook such mistakes in favor of the potential displayed. But I'm sure you're tired of hearing that from me.