Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
HOUSTON -- My big question Monday night at Reliant Stadium will not be whether Brett Favre looks more comfortable as Minnesota’s starting quarterback. After his brief debut Aug. 21, Favre has nowhere to go but up. No, what I want to see is whether Favre is close to being comfortable enough to start the regular season.
(And I’m not talking about his potentially cracked rib, either. More on that in a bit.)
It’s entirely possible that this will be Favre’s final preseason appearance before the season opener at Cleveland, now 14 days away. No matter how much you hear about Favre’s familiarity with this offense, let’s be clear on one point. The Vikings are trying to squeeze into a month what most NFL teams need a full offseason or more to achieve: chemistry between a quarterback and his teammates.
There are no shortcuts or time-savers in this endeavor. The only solution is practice and game-speed reps. Favre is playing catch-up in both areas, and time is running out. To me, it’s reasonable to expect substantial progress and much better precision Monday night in order to be convinced that this fast-track preparation schedule will be a success for opening weekend.
I know some people would suggest that the Vikings’ early-season schedule -- Cleveland followed by Detroit and San Francisco -- gives them a chance to work out the kinks without taking a direct hit on their record. But in what I think will be a highly competitive division, the Vikings can’t afford even one slipup related to Favre’s late start.
So I guess I’m not buying into Favre’s attempts to downplay Monday night’s game. His revelation Monday that he thinks he has a cracked rib seemed to be another attempt to lower expectations. This appearance is a big deal, and I’m not (only) saying this because it’s on ESPN’s air.
Favre continued to maintain last week that he is mostly focused on the basics. If the Vikings score on every possession Monday night, he said, “I’ll probably be the most surprised person in the building.”
Instead, Favre said, “the things that people don’t see” are the most important.
“No one wants to see the ball on the ground,” he said. “Calling plays wrong, going the wrong way. Things like that. The other stuff will come.”
The other stuff will come. I presume that refers to completions, touchdowns and other minor details.
But when will they come and at what cost? That’s what I want to find out Monday night.