Since Brad Childress took over as head coach of the Vikings, the team has been through a litany of aging quarterbacks.
First was Brad Johnson in Childress' first year. Johnson was supposed to be the starter/mentor for a year or two while Tarvaris Jackson learned the in-depth West Coast system that Johnson had been immersed in during his days under Dennis Green (Vikings) and Jon Gruden (Tampa Bay).
After Johnson came other grizzled veterans, like Kelly Holcomb and Gus Frerotte. Throughout the aging veteran experiments, we've found out that Brad Childress likes his offense run a certain way, which can leave some long-time signal-callers feeling like they don't have enough flexibility at the line of scrimmage.
Now that Brett Favre – the gunslinger, the risk-taker, the maverick – is the one under center for the Vikings, how will he co-exist with the coach he is already calling "Chilly?"
"That's a really good question. It's a really going to be all up to the coaches, how much they want to put on him early," receiver Bobby Wade said. "How far they are going to let him go and be as comfortable as he wants to be. This offense has a lot of stuff in it that he's really familiar with, a lot of stuff that he can check to, a lot of stuff that he can alert to, so as far as him being comfortable and being able to play the same way that he's been able to play, I think he'll still have that opportunity.
"As far as the plays being changed and things like that, that's going to be strictly up to Coach Childress and (offensive coordinator Darrell) Bevell and how much they want to move things around."
Former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon, who has worked with the Vikings quarterbacks in a consultation role for Childress, didn't mask his feelings on how the Brad/Brett relationship will play out.
"Brett Favre and Brad Childress are going to butt heads. Brad Childress is a stickler for doing it his way. He's a very detailed guy, doesn't really want to think outside the box, knows what he understands in that system," Gannon said on his Sirius NFL Radio show on Tuesday when Favre was on his way to Minnesota. "Brett's going to come in there, he's going to be hand signaling the receivers, he's going to be trying to change plays at the line of scrimmage, he's going to do stuff that they don't do in that system and he's going to drive Brad Childress crazy."
Steve Mariucci, who coached Favre for the quarterback's first four years in Green Bay, said Favre isn't a demanding quarterback when it comes to the type of plays that are called.
"Brett is not one of those guys that runs off the field that says run this play, run this play. Nor was Steve Young. They're not like that. Just call the play and I'll execute it. Most of the time that's their mindset," Mariucci said. "Just give me a play and I'll run it. That's been their responsibility. They're not on the field like a Peyton Manning having to check run-pass in that system. Some teams do it that way, but not necessarily the West Coast people. Give him a play and run it. Every now and then he might talk about what he prefers, this one or that one. But he's a very coachable guy. It's a pleasure to have a guy like that."
Mariucci, a long-time public supporter of Favre, fully admits that he's biased. While Favre may not be demanding with the plays that are called, Mariucci said having his experience at the line of scrimmage will help a team with young playmakers.
"You'd like to have (someone that can make adjustments) in your quarterback because when you have a play called – you're going to see it when you have young players like Percy Harvin, Adrian Peterson when they have new wrinkles … he's a guy in the huddle that can tell a guy exactly what to do or give some reminders because he knows everybody's assignment and he knows what's going on on defense and he can be that coach on the field," Mariucci said. "That leadership from your quarterback is very important. Not every team has that. It's a luxury to have that experience out there that is a coach-type guy that can help anybody that has a question or can get everything set right or change the play if need be. Not everybody has that. The Vikings now have that."
They also have a lot of surrounding talent to which Favre can disseminate the ball. Some people perceive him as a player who likes the limelight. Mariucci said that's not true. In fact, he believes Favre stays away from reporters and even open locker room sessions because he wants his teammates to receive the attention.
Favre indicated that not being the focal point of an offense isn't a problem for him.
"You know what, I think as a quarterback, you kind of go as the team goes on what you're asked to do. You never know. I've heard that the whole offseason, that you don't have to do as much (with the Vikings)," he said. "We have a great running game. We all know that. But there will always come a time when you have to make plays, have to do certain things that maybe you wouldn't have to do on a consistent basis."
Childress has often said he likes the "flat-line" players, those that don't get too high or too low. He said Favre's emotional reputation comes from his actions after plays, not when it's time to be thinking about executing.
"You can't take your helmet off on the field and wave it around anymore or you get a 15-yard penalty as we know. There's nothing wrong with a display of emotion, but he's pretty flat-line," Childress said. "Does he like to have fun? Does he like to smile? Does he like to laugh? Sure he does. And that's great for us, to keep it easy. But I don't think he's a ride-the-roller-coaster guy. I think he'll be about as flat-line as he can be."
Mariucci believes Favre will enjoy having a coach who clearly is more well-versed in the West Coast offense than the Tampa-2 defense he entrusts to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
"I think Brett enjoys having a head coach who is an offensive-minded guy so he can speak the same language on the sidelines and in meetings so they know what's expected that way," Mariucci said. "The familiarity with the scheme is so big. That's what was difficult for Brett last year at the Jets. He did his best learning that system. It was all new to him. This is a better fit. … How does a guy get off an airplane, sign a contract, put on a jersey and get in the huddle and start running the offense? Well, you better be familiar with it and he was. From that standpoint, it was like he was here a long time."
Said Favre: "Coming here made a lot of sense because the system is what I'm very used to. … For me, what I need to get accomplished is understanding my guys. How they run their routes, footwork, things like that. The line getting used to my cadence."
The bigger issue may be Childress getting used to the Favre modus operandi.
"(Favre has) got a history in this system. He knows it as well, if not better, than Brad and they've done a lot more – a lot of different things that have been added on over the years – in Green Bay and it's part of his repertoire," Gannon said. "He's going to do it because that's what he knows and that's what he's comfortable doing. When push comes to shove and he's out there in a critical situation in a game, he's going to revert to what he knows and what he's done in the past and it may not be what Brad Childress had thought about or even installed in the game plan."
As Terrell Owens, another former offensive player under Brad Childress, once said, get your popcorn ready.
Will the Brad-Brett marriage work?
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