Mariucci-Sharpe on Favre: Part II

Former coach, wide receiver answer questions about quarterback

Q: We know what it was when you coached him. Can you talk about coaching against him?
When I was in San Francisco and in Detroit, I haven't had a whole lot of luck. I think my record against Brett is 3-9. I remember in San Francisco I would meet with the defense. Most of my time was obviously on the offensive side of the ball, but I would have some meetings with the defense talking Brett, the offensive system that we knew well, what Brett's thinking.

When it's in the red zone, he's thinking touchdown, check-down, and he's going to go for the end zone first. That's where he's looking first. We would fire balls in there at practice with jugs gun, try to get the linebackers, DBs catching as hard a passes as you could possibly fire at 'em.

We didn't usually have a guy on the team that could simulate that very well. So we would use the jugs gun to fire balls at the defensive guys to try to get used to catching a fast ball that Brett will throw.

Then, of course, you had to keep guys in coverage, because when Brett leaves the pocket, Sterling very well knows that anything can happen. He can see you downfield, any corner of the end zone. He can lay it up there because he likes to lay it up there because good things have happened for him.

You would have to practice those sort of things in that fashion for Brett Favre that you didn't usually do during the weeks.

Q: I'm looking at a game in San Francisco in '99. He was 24 for 35 against you with two touchdowns. I don't know if you remember that game, anything from any of those particular games, that stand out.
The one that stands out -- they all stand out. But the one, the NFC Championship Game he beat us at our place at San Francisco at Candlestick in the rain. I was watching him. It was really my first year in San Francisco. We met in the NFC Championship Game.

He was just having a ball out there. He seemed to be in such control of everything that was going on. We had a great quarterback in Steve Young, too. They played a couple of great matchups. The very next year was when Steve Young threw to Terrell Owens to win the game at our place in the playoffs.

There were some really good battles with two great quarterbacks. It was kind of an honor to be in those games with those guys.

Q: Could you offer up a quick recollection of what your first impressions of Brett Favre were when the Packers acquired him.
I had none. Don Majkowski was our quarterback. I played with Don. I knew Don. I knew what he was capable of doing. Bringing in Brett Favre, it was just, 'Okay, we got another backup quarterback.' I was always under the impression that was somebody else's job. When Ron signed him he came in, my impression was that, 'Okay, Don gets hurt, which he has proven he would do.' Obviously they got a guy that can come in and run the offense, help us be successful.

STEVE MARIUCCI: Do you remember, Sterling, that year Mike Tomczak was the other backup quarterback? He started some games the year before for Don when he was hurt. So he held out of training camp wanting to have starter money, ended up coming to training camp late.

That allowed Brett Favre to be the backup. Had Mike Tomczak come to camp on time, Brett probably would have been third.

But my first recollection, Ron Wolf came to me. I was the new coach there, new quarterback coach, under Mike Holmgren. Ron said, ‘Hey, Steve, take a look at this kid, Brett Favre. He's with the Falcons. I like him. Let me know what you think.'

There wasn't a lot of film to watch at the Falcons because I think he threw five passes all year. Two of them were intercepted for I think touchdowns (laughter). So I had to go back to Southern Mississippi film and watch him play in college, which is a lot of what you see now.

I said, ‘Well, he sure has a strong arm, he does some crazy things.' A couple days later Ron traded for him, a first-round pick. I didn't really know what we were doing other than getting this country kid that had a strong arm, had a reputation of being a tough guy. We gave up a No. 1 pick for him.

Ron Wolf obviously knew what he was doing because he worked him out for the draft and that sort of thing before I got there. But that was my first recollection.

He only had like five pass attempts in his redshirt year in Atlanta and a couple were picked.

Q: You talked about the interception thing a little earlier. Does that taint some of the other marks, also have the most interceptions of anybody to play the game?
Not in my mind, because in my mind, I'm looking at some of the other guys who are high-interception, low-touchdown, and I'm saying to myself, Wow, the guy is about to throw 400 touchdown passes, however many interceptions.

Giving your guys an opportunity, I think his touchdowns are higher than his interceptions, and that's what you have to have. I just think that's the way he plays. That's who he is.

I think because he's thrown so many interceptions and because the team has still won, it's hard to put him in a category where it taints it a little bit just because he's won more games than any other quarterback to ever play. That's saying a lot when you start talking about some other guys, Bart Starr, others. For me it doesn't, because it's who he is, how he plays.

The team now understands it. I think it's a little tougher on him now because he really can't free will it as much because, you know, because of the young guys he has, all the newness, the head coach, all the players he's playing with. So for me I don't think it taints it at all.

STEVE MARIUCCI: Yeah, ditto. I don't think at all, not one inch, because he's going to fire it in there and he's going to take some chances and he's going to make life exciting. If you look at his 400-plus touchdowns, a lot of those were tight fits. A lot of those were, ‘How did he get that in there?' You know, an inch or foot away from being knocked down or intercepted.

Some of those interceptions are because he's trying to make a play, because he's done it so many times before. And the fact that he's going to take risks sometimes allow him to be more productive by getting the ball in there, throwing a lot of touchdowns, throwing a lot of completions. He made life very, very exciting for everybody. It wasn't always easy to coach him because he might not check it down, check it down sometimes, or what the defense gives you. He's going to take some chances sometimes.

But more times than not he would end up with a touchdown or a completion than the interception. It's just part of what you got with Brett Favre. It's like an exciting player that's a great runner or a high-risk offense. The wishbone is high risk, all right? Because there's going to be the ball on the ground every now and then.

But it's such an exciting offense you're going to get a lot of big plays, too.

Q: You saw the game the other day against New York. He was efficient.
Completed first 14 coming out of the second half.

Q: How much longer can he go at a level where you say he's a guy you still want to be your quarterback?
You know, they have a little bit of a dilemma there because Brett Favre is a permanent fixture in that town. When you think of Green Bay, you think of Brett Favre.

Aaron Rogers is the heir apparent. A good young quarterback from Cal who is just sitting, sitting, and sitting. How many times, Sterling, did we have backups that didn't get on the field? Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell never got on the field because Brett never came out.

Hopefully they can get Aaron Rogers signed to another contract to be the next guy when that occurs because, I'm telling you, if Brett continues to have fun, if he stays healthy, he might keep playing, all right? He might keep playing. He hasn't made that decision yet to retire.

The other thing that's going to be very tempting for him, he's got a young team that's getting better. He might just want to be part of another Super Bowl run. As long as his body holds up, he might just keep on trucking.

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