It looks like the Packers will be young at quarterback, with new starter Aaron Rodgers in his fourth season and perhaps two rookies backing him up. It was a similar story in 1994.
Favre was starting his fourth year in the NFL, and his third with the Packers. Behind Favre were Ty Detmer, a third-year veteran, and Mark Brunell, a second-year player. Favre was sort of at a crossroads in his career. He had led the Packers to two straight winning seasons and a playoff berth after the 1993 campaign, but his play was wildly inconsistent. The Packers were looking for a big improvement from No. 4 entering 1994.
Favre started that season slowly. After an early-season loss to Minnesota in which Favre was sidelined by an injured hip, coach Mike Holmgren polled the coaches to see who should start at quarterback the next week. Brunell won the vote, but Holmgren stuck with Favre.
As if he saw the light, Favre's career took off from there.
Favre's next game was against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on a Monday night. The weather was miserable. It was cold, rainy and windy. Favre did not have a great game in terms of passing percentage due to the conditions, but he threw one touchdown pass, scored on a wild 36-yard scamper and threw no interceptions in a 33-6 romp.
The season turned out to be Favre's breakthrough year. Favre ended up with 33 touchdown passes to just 14 interceptions — after throwing 19 TD passes to 24 interceptions in 1993 — and led the team back to the playoffs with a last-second touchdown run to beat Atlanta.
The 1994 season set the stage for a three-year run from 1995 to 1997 with three straight MVP seasons, three straight NFC Central Division titles and three straight NFC championship game appearances. The Packers won two of those, and Favre brought the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay after the Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI.
In 1994, like Rodgers will in 2008, Favre had young quarterbacks surrounding him, plus he had Holmgren and quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci to tutor him. Rodgers has a similar opportunity under coach Mike McCarthy and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements.
Favre proved the acumen of that coaching duo in 2007, when he had his best season in many years, and Rodgers had a magnificent game against Dallas in his one regular-season opportunity. Rodgers needs that type of success to carry over to 2008.
Favre had his breakthrough year in 1994. Will Rodgers have similar results in 2008? Time will tell.
Favre had some advice for Rodgers at his retirement announcement.
"I wish Aaron well," Favre said. "I think he'll do a great job. I think he has the talent. I know everyone's made comments that, ‘Boy, big shoes to fill.' The only shoes he has to fill is himself. He doesn't need to play like Brett Favre. It's all about the cast around you, it's about the coaching staff. If you stay focused on the fact that it's not about you — they obviously drafted him because he has the talent, mental capabilities — he'll be fine. Hopefully, one day he's sitting here where I am and able to experience what I've been able to experience."
Great advice, from a great quarterback.
Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org