Random thoughts at the halfway point

PackerReport.com's Bob Fox comments on firsts, seconds, records and 'the streak'

Coming into the 2006 season, Brett Favre was cautiously optimistic. He talked about the talent on this year's Green Bay Packers team, but he tempered it by emphasizing that it was YOUNG talent. Favre knew that if the Packers were going to improve on their dismal 4-12 showing in 2005, that the young players learn on the job quickly. That has happened. The Packers have a very young interior for their offensive line. Third-year center Scott Wells has done a nice job replacing Mike Flanagan, no matter the bad snaps in Buffalo. Wells earlier this week was rewarded with a contract extension.

The offensive line has made great strides since Week 1 of the season. Two of the reasons are rookie guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz, with occasional help from fellow rookie Tony Moll. The running game has started to really blossom and Favre has received nice protection in the passing game. Speaking of the passing game, rookie Greg Jennings was off to a very good start this season until he was hampered with a nagging ankle injury. The future will only get brighter for these players.

The same can be said about the young defensive players. A.J. Hawk has been everything the Packers thought he might be. Hawk is second only to Nick Barnett in tackles and is really starting to find his niche in the Green Bay defensive scheme. Other defensive draft picks like Abdul Hodge, Will Blackmon, Johnny Jolly and Tyrone Culver have shown promise as well. And let's not forget the young kickers. Both Dave Rayner and Jon Ryan have done exceptional work this year, although the real test for them is about to arrive. His name? Jack Frost.

Back to Favre. The 2006 season has been an interesting one for him. Overall, Favre has played very solidly and with a couple of breaks could have his team at 5-3 and in playoff contention. The playoffs are still a possibility, but Favre and the Packers need to finish games like they did in Miami, not like they did against the Saints, Rams and Bills. Favre has yet to have a game-winning comeback in 2006, although he has come tantalizingly close. He should have had one against the Rams if not for a protection breakdown and we all know about the first and goal play call against the Bills that might have led to another one if the Packers score in that situation.

There aren't many things Favre hasn't done in terms of records. A first that occurred this year and WON'T appear in the record book was Favre's first Lambeau Leap. That was a magical moment for Favre and Packer fans and will always be remembered. Speaking of firsts, the first pass Favre ever completed as a Packer was to himself. It happened against Tampa Bay in 1992. He had never done that again ... until this year. I think Brett would be fine knowing that when he ends his illustrious career, that he is stuck on two career receptions, unless of course he catches a TD pass off a halfback option or something similar. Never say never with Favre.

Favre is also on his way to break some very big records this year. The Mississippi gunslinger needs to pick it up a bit in the second half of the year, but the Dan Marino record of 420 career TD passes is well within reach. Favre has 407 entering the last 8 games of the year. Favre will also most likely pass Marino in career completions as well this year. Favre is also just seven wins away from becoming the all-time winningest QB in NFL history. That probably won't happen in 2006, but as much fun as it appears Favre is having right now, I expect #4 back in 2007. The R word has been muted, at least for now.

But the record that amazes everyone the most is the streak, the consecutive start streak. Favre has been the starting QB for the Packers since President Bush was in office. The FIRST President Bush. It's ironic that Favre will be making his 230th consecutive start in Minnesota. Because with that start, Favre will move alone into third place all-time past OL Bruce Matthews. Only two Vikings will stand in front of him. Jim Marshall at an incredible 270 games and Mick Tingelhoff at 240 games.

Think about the streak for a moment. Just look at Favre's NFC North opponents for example. Since Favre's streak began back in 1992, the Bears have had 20 different starting QBs. The Lions have had 15. The Vikings have had 11. Favre has come close to having the streak end a couple of times in his career, but the grizzled veteran always ends up under center. As I said, based on what I have seen from Favre this year, I have no reason to believe he won't return for the 2007 season. The team will have matured even more, and more talent will be added. Things change in the NFL all the time. All except the starting QB of the Green Bay Packers. That too, will change some day. But until it does, enjoy one of the greatest players in NFL history. His ilk is rare, very rare.

Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at greenbaybob@hotmail.com.

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