Favre's big challenge

Packers quarterback Brett Favre met with the media today at Lambeau Field. Favre spoke about the team's offense and his role in it this season. PackerReport.com's Todd Korth offers his take on if Favre will make a successful adjustment.

Brett Favre is a classic gunslinger, which all Packers fans know. Why toss a five-yard pass to the flat when Favre can use his canon-like arm to fire a 30-yard strike over the middle? Favre has always played that way, but usually on teams that had a few play-makers. This season, he knows he'll have to change, but will he?

The Green Bay Packers' offense currently has a number of players with promise, but no play-makers. Even Favre, who will turn 37 in October is not the player he once was and cannot be counted on to make big plays on a consistent basis. If the Packers have a play-maker on offense, it is wide receiver Donald Driver, and he'll be well-covered by opposing defenses. Rookie wide receiver Greg Jennings has loads of promise, but that's not going to do the Packers any good this season. Same with the team's rookie offensive linemen that have been inserted.

Favre said today that he is well aware of what new coach Mike McCarthy and his staff are trying to accomplish with the offense this year. The Packers, because of the new linemen and receivers, want to keep it simple. Dink and dunk their way down the field. The only problem, is Favre doesn't like to play that way. This has created an interesting scenario that will unfold when the regular season begins. Will Favre adhere to McCarthy's wishes of a safer style of offense, and playing keep-away from opponents, or revert to his gunslinger ways? Favre knows what he should do, but will he? That's hard to imagine happening. Like offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski has said about Favre this off-season, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

"I'm my own worst critic," Favre told the media today. "I want to play perfect. There's only one way I know how to play, and that is aggressive. At times, it's not pretty. Does it hurt the team sometimes? I don't know, I'll leave that up to you guys to decide, but I will go down swinging, and Mike would be the first to tell you that.

"Maybe there are some things he can do calling the game that makes things easier, I mean every play that works is a great play call, but we'll have to do some things differently. We'll have to run the ball better. I think his philosophy, and most coaches would agree, is to move the chains and take shots, educated shots. Look at the film and say, ‘This part of the field is the time to take a shot, but we have to move the chains and keep the opposing offenses off the field.' How do you do that? That's kind of getting back to the old West Coast offenses and mingling the run and the pass together. We're talking about doing that. For any quarterback, the percentages are in your favor when you're taking three- and four-yard passes, and taking shots when they're there. … We'll see what happens, but I like the relationship I have not only with Mike, but with Tom (Clements) and Jags. It's all fine and dandy in the preseason, but I don't foresee that changing. I'm willing to bend and do it the way they want to, but they also know I play a certain way. We'll see."

Last year when players were dropping like flies because of injuries, Favre was in a similar position. If he had been a little more conservative, he would have had a lot fewer interceptions, and the Packers may have had a chance to win more games. The five-interception performance at Cincinnati stands out. But we all know what happened. Favre tried to carry the team with his right arm and it turned out to be a 4-12 season.

With Driver as his only play-maker this year and coming off a 29-interception season last year, hopefully Favre should play a little more conservatively this season. The hunch here is that he might early on, but if the Packers are not successful, he'll quickly be calling audibles and take shots downfield, throwing passes into triple-coverage, trying to hook up with Driver.

In order for the Packers to have some success this year, Favre has to realize that it's not 1996 anymore. He doesn't have experienced players around him, like in past seasons. He doesn't have any play-makers. He knows this and has to at least try to change his gunslinging ways. If not, it will be another disappointing season for Favre and the Packers.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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