With the game's top running back and an experienced quarterback who hasn't always had the time to let deep pass plays develop, efficiency is trumping explosiveness for Brett Favre and the Vikings offense.
"He's putting the ball right where it needs to be. The one he threw to Bernard (Berrian), I think it was through two defenders and he put it right there on the outside, straight through them. He's putting it in a certain spot and just expecting us to catch it," said wide receiver Sidney Rice.
Rice is one of six receivers with four or more catches through two games, but it's obvious that Favre is distributing the ball without much prejudice for any one receiver. Percy Harvin and Chester Taylor lead the team with eight catches, Bernard Berrian has six, Rice and Adrian Peterson five and Visanthe Shiancoe four. Harvin has two touchdowns and Shiancoe one.
Favre is the third-rated passer in the league at 110.2, behind Peyton Manning at 110.3 and Drew Brees at 132.9. Favre's 77.1 completion percentage is best among the top-31 rated passers in the league.
While efficient, the Vikings are averaging only 7.3 yards per catch. Favre is ranked 30th in the league in average gain per pass play.
Rice said it's only a matter of time before the downfield passes become a more frequent part of the team's offensive attack.
"It's on the way," he said. "We've got a game plan every week that we put in. Our job is to focus on the game plan. If that becomes part of the game plan, that's what we will try our best to execute on."
"(Receivers) do want our shots, but ultimately we just want to win."
There have been 13 300-yard passing games in the NFL already this season, including a 436-yard effort by San Diego's Philip Rivers. The Vikings haven't had a 300-yard passer in the Childress era, and Favre has produced a 110-yard game and a 155-yard game. However, Favre had an interesting take on that after Sunday's game, saying the only time he has passed for 400 yards in his career was a loss.
For now, it's about managing an offense that Favre knows is dedicated to Peterson first. While that won't put Favre among the yardage leaders, he is among the efficiency leaders.
He is still tied for eighth in touchdowns, is sixth in touchdown percentage and tied for first in interception percentage – the old gunslinger hasn't thrown an interception yet.
Favre is seventh in fourth-quarter passer rating at 119.6 and seventh in third-down passer rating, with a 99.9 rating on third downs while converting 10 of 15 third-down attempts.
Rice said he expected everything to go up when Favre arrived.
"Everything – passing, rushing, everything. With a guy like that back there, along with Adrian, Bernard, Percy, myself, I'm sure everybody was expecting it to go up and that's one thing we still have to focus on," Rice said.
SHARPER WEIGHS IN
Former Vikings safety Darren Sharper played with Brett Favre in Green Bay for eight seasons and talked about him often during Sharper's subsequent four seasons in Minnesota. But this offseason saw Sharper sign with New Orleans and Favre end up in Minnesota.
Now that Sharper has seen Drew Brees in action, he was asked to compare the two quarterbacks during an appearance with Jay Glazer on FoxSports.com's "After Party" weekly web show.
"Brett's going to do things that are going to be good and bad. He's going to make throws that you are going to say, ‘I can't believe he made that throw, throwing 50 yards across his body … or shovel pass underneath his gut to a receiver 15 or 20 yards down the field.' Brett does those kind of things," Sharper said. "But Drew, as far as just being a complete quarterback, you talk about accuracy, vision, precision, and just making all the throws and the proper throws, I would have to give Drew – and Brett might hate me for this – but I would have to give Drew the nod as far as being the better quarterback."
STATS TO CHEW ON