History book will intercept Favre

Due to injuries and incompetence around him, Brett Favre threw 29 interceptions last season. With his supporting cast no better for the coming season, Favre seems destined to throw the 23 interceptions that would give him the all-time record.

Brett Favre enters the 2006 season with a chance to break several career NFL records, but because of the moves made by Packers general manager Ted Thompson during the off-season, the standard he's most likely to break is dubious.

Favre has thrown 255 interceptions, which ranks sixth in league annals. George Blanda, with 277 interceptions, holds the all-time mark.

Last season, Favre was picked off 29 times. Even with significant improvement, he'll throw the 23 interceptions necessary to supplant Blanda in the NFL's history books.

Presumably, with coach Mike McCarthy keeping a tighter leash, Favre will be a more disciplined player than he was under the previous coaching staff, which seemed afraid or unable to stand up to a future Hall of Famer.

Still, with Thompson jettisoning Javon Walker to Denver and allowing Antonio Chatman to sign with Cincinnati, who is Favre going to throw the ball to? And if nobody is open, is Favre going to throw the ball away or try to make something happen?

The answer to that question is obvious. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and likewise, you can't teach a legendary gunslinger to keep his gun in his holster.

On paper, the Packers are a better football team than they were when the season culminated more than six months ago. Much of the improvement is on defense, however, with upgrades at linebacker, cornerback and defensive tackle.

It's hard to see, however, where the offense is going to be any better than the pathetic unit Favre struggled to lead to points last season.

To be sure, there are more questions than answers.

— Will the new offensive line, under a new scheme and possibly with a pair of rookies manning the guard positions, be better able to protect Favre?

— Will injured running backs Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport be able to contribute? Even if healthy, does Green have anything left in the tank? It sure didn't look like it early last season. Can Davenport stay on the field for more than a game or two? Can Samkon Gado remain productive while eliminating his penchant for fumbling? Can any of these guys fill the role of third-down pass catcher? If the Packers can't run the ball, the onus to move the football will fall completely on Favre. That didn't work well last year.

— Are there legitimate Nos. 2 and 3 receivers on the roster? Donald Driver may be one of the league's 10 most underrated players, but not even he can consistently beat the barrage of double teams and special coverages he's certain to face in the coming season. Say what you will about Chatman's size and lack of playmaking ability, but he at least could get open and catch the ball. As it is, the Packers are counting on a pair of underachieving veterans and a couple of rookies, and like I've pointed out a number of times in past commentaries, rookie wide receivers almost never make an impact during their first seasons.

A.J. Hawk almost certainly will become a big-time linebacker, but tight end Vernon Davis — selected by the San Francisco 49ers one pick after the Packers landed Hawk — would have solved a lot of the questions revolving around the Packers' passing game. Bubba Franks is a fine player, and new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski promises to make the tight end a bigger part of the game plan, but it's hard to imagine Franks suddenly becoming a 65-catch, 850-yard, 10-touchdown player.

None of this is meant to criticize Thompson or Favre. Thompson seems to have the team pointed in the right direction, and I absolve Favre of much of the blame for last year because of the woeful supporting cast surrounding him. That supporting cast is arguably worse this season, however, and that means the history Favre makes this coming season won't be the kind he desires or deserves.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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