Two controversial moves vaulting Vikings

An old quarterback that Brad Childress wouldn't stop pursuing and a first-round draft pick that some had taken off their board are propelling the Vikings' scoring in the first half of the season. Both moves had some second-guessers, but few question the wisdom of them now.

When Brad Childress dashed off to Holman airport Field in St. Paul on Aug. 18 to pick up Brett Favre there were plenty who questioned whether the Vikings coach was making the right move.

The Vikings had broken training camp, played a preseason game and appeared as if they had moved on with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels competing for the starting job at quarterback.

Now after an offseason of chasing Favre and eventually being told no thanks, Childress was going to let the future Hall of Fame reverse his decision.

There was plenty of speculation that Childress' players would rebel against the move and that Favre might end up being an outcast. A report of a schism in the locker room shortly after Favre's arrival only proved to intensify those feelings.

So halfway through the season how does Childress' move look now? Try pure genius.

The Vikings entered their bye week with a 7-1 record and the 40-year-old Favre has been playing some of his best football. Favre, who has 16 touchdown passes and only three interceptions, has given the Vikings offense the type of quarterback it has lacked since Childress arrived as coach in 2006.

Favre also already has given the Vikings a series sweep of his old team, the Green Bay Packers.

Favre isn't the only pleasant surprise in terms of performance.

Wide receiver Percy Harvin, who slipped to 22nd in the draft because of questions about his ability to stay healthy and his character, has proven to be better than even the Vikings could have expected.

Harvin has quickly gained Favre's trust and is second on the team with 28 receptions for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Harvin, though, might not be making his greatest contribution at the receiver position.

He also provided the Vikings' previously lifeless kickoff return unit with an explosive presence that has teams trying to keep the ball away from him. Harvin is averaging 30.7 yards on 28 returns with two touchdowns, including one he took back 101 yards.

Much of this success has come with Harvin battling a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 5 at St. Louis. Harvin also has dealt with migraine headaches, an issue for him since childhood.

While the Vikings players will be off for six days, or until next Monday, to enjoy the bye, the coaching staff is going to spend time doing a self scout of what went right and what went wrong in the first half of the season.

There are issues to fix, such as some surprisingly poor tackling that has resulted in far too many missed opportunities to wrap up ball carriers.

The Vikings also need to learn how to go for the jugular of teams once they have what appears to be a comfortable lead. A failure to do that nearly cost them a victory over Baltimore and caused a few anxious moments last Sunday in Green Bay.

If some of these issues can be fixed, the Vikings could be playing well into the postseason. Minnesota returns from its bye week with three consecutive home games in which it will face Detroit, Seattle and Chicago.

It's not a stretch to think the Vikings could enter December with a 10-1 record and with a real shot to battle New Orleans for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

All of this means that these days no one is questioning Childress' personnel moves.

NOTES

  • WR Bernard Berrian will get time to rest his sore hamstring during the bye week. Berrian was injured two weeks ago against Pittsburgh but managed to play and catch a touchdown pass last Sunday against the Packers.

  • QB Brett Favre also will benefit from the rest for various body parts. He played last Sunday despite having suffered a groin injury in practice during the week. Favre is the NFL's all-time ironman in terms of starts so no one expects him to start missing time now.

  • LB Erin Henderson was active for the first time this season last Sunday after missing the first portion of the season because of a leg injury. Henderson saw time on special teams.

  • WR Darius Reynaud has not played since Week 3 because of a hamstring injury and it now appears that Jaymar Johnson has taken over as the Vikings' primary punt return man. Coach Brad Childress also said Percy Harvin could get a chance to return punts.

  • FB Naufahu Tahi should be ready to return for the Vikings next game on Nov. 15 after missing last Sunday's contest because he reportedly suffered an eye injury while horsing around with running back Adrian Peterson.

    INJURY IMPACT: The return of cornerback Antoine Winfield should give the defense a boost when that happens. The Vikings have several players who will benefit from the time off during the bye as they get to rest. Brett Favre (groin) and Bernard Berrian (hamstring) will be among them.

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