EDEN PRARIE, Minn. -- In a little more than a calendar year, the Minnesota Vikings literally have seen the best and worst of quarterback Brett Favre. He has followed the best season of his career with what would be his worst if he maintains this pace.
Favre committed a career-low nine turnovers in 2009. This year, his 21 turnovers through nine games not only leads the NFL but has put him on pace for a historic season. At his current rate of 2.33 turnovers per game, Favre would finish with a career-high 37 if he plays all 16 games.
When a player who already has more interceptions (333) and fumbles (165) in NFL history is set to break his own single-season mistake barrier, you have reason to be alarmed. And if you're wondering, my unofficial research has found only three players who have committed more than 36 turnovers in one season: Vinny Testaverde (41 in 1988), Ken Stabler (38 in 1978) and Richard Todd (37 in 1980).
Favre has long maintained that his turnovers are a trade-off for the big plays he has made, an explanation that has made sense in most years. But it's hard to ignore that he has committed 21 of the Vikings' 23 turnovers this season. Where would they be if he had made fewer mistakes?
Coach Brad Childress was livid after the Green Bay Packers intercepted Favre three times Oct. 24, and in speaking this week to Wisconsin reporters, Childress said it has been "hard to overcome" the turnover frequency. But if he were going to bench or otherwise discipline Favre for the mistakes, you would think it would have come by now.
"You like to think that you coach those out of people," Childress said, "but you still know that part of those turnovers and part of that risk-taking, those guys have to live on the edge. They have to be aggressive. Otherwise you've got a guy that looks upfield and checks it down every single time. It's hard to move the football that way."
Favre spent some time this week defending the three interceptions he threw Sunday against the Chicago Bears, noting that receivers slipped on two of them and that Bears defensive end Israel Idonije got "that much of his finger" on the third, tipping it to cornerback D.J. Moore.
At least one of those receivers, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, slipped because he was trying to reach behind him for a poorly thrown pass. Regardless, Favre reiterated what he has always said about turnovers.
"You have to play your game," he said. "You can't be concerned about who's in, who's not in. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. You've just got to play the game the same way. You've got to prepare yourself the same way. That hasn't changed. It won't change."
We'll see if the numbers do.