Favre has gotten the reputation of melting down in December while the weather gets colder. Weather wasn't an issue last Sunday night in Arizona with the roof closed, but Favre threw two touchdowns and two interceptions, his first multiple-interception game of the season. His passer rating on Sunday was 79.4, one of three performances in the 70s this season, with the other two coming in a last-second win over the 49ers and a loss at Pittsburgh.
Whether deserved or not, Favre has the stigma of not playing well in the final month of the season and he knows it.
I'm sure people are saying, you guys may have already said it, ‘Well, here we go. Now it's December. He doesn't throw a pick in November. Wow!'" Favre said last week when I asked him about that perception. "It's a weekly thing. That's the way it is and I don't pay much attention to it. This is where you make it or break it from a team standpoint. We've done well up to this point. We would have liked to have done a little bit better, but if we want to get in and see what happens, this is where we make our push. I look forward to this way more than I do early in the year."
But how accurate is the December swoon assessment? It's hard to put much credence in anything more than five years ago in the ever-changing world of the NFL, but a look at his last four seasons could be revealing.
Last year, of course, there is no disputing that Favre had a terrible final five games with the New York Jets. Following an 8-3 record to start the season, they lost four of their final five games. After having only one game with a passer rating under 72 in his first 11 games of 2008, Favre didn't break 62 in any of his final five games, throwing nine interceptions and two touchdowns. Of course, much of that analysis has to be tempered with the reality that he suffered a partially torn biceps tendon and has admitted that altered his accuracy.
"Last year, even when my footwork was right and everything seemed to be in line as the season progressed, I wasn't sure where the ball was going to go," Favre said last month. "For me, I'm pretty sure if I'm rolling to the left and I got someone in my face and I got a tight end coming across the middle at 20 yards, to me it's no big deal to put it right there. Most of the throws that I can point to this year the ball has gone where I wanted it."
During his final season with the Packers in 2007, Favre was 13-3 as a starter and had eight games in the first three months of the season when he had a passer rating of 100 or better. He started and ended December that way, too, but also had one mediocre rating (an 80.6) and one bad one (a 40.2). That sounds more like a pretty solid month for an NFL quarterback – two good games, one average and one bad, resulting in six touchdowns and five interceptions.
"I wasn't as effective last year. The year before, the last pass I threw against the Giants (in the NFC Championship) wasn't very good, but I thought up until that play it was a pretty good year. We played in the snow the week before against Seattle and I had one of my better games," he said. "Had they dropped the interception and we somehow go down and kick a field, everybody would have been saying, "He's great late in the year." Last year I didn't play very well and it was late in the year. I could sit here and say that it was because of my arm, but that would be the easy way out, I'm sure that didn't help, but I still had to make decisions and lead the team. I apparently didn't do a very good job of that. I thought I did the year before as well as I had in any year."
December 2005 and 2006 might provide the most compelling time frame for the perception of him flailing in the final month of a season. In the Packers' final five games of 2005 (including a Jan. 1 contest), Favre threw one touchdown and 10 interceptions and had passer ratings under 53 in three of the five games. Not surprisingly, the Packers lost all three of those games but won the other two games when Favre limited himself to one interception in each.
Interestingly, the Packers won two games in that final month of the season – which actually turned out to be half of their wins during the 4-12 season that was 2005. Despite generally better ratings and better touchdown-to-interception ratios from Favre in the first three months of the season, the Packers still only won two games. Maybe it was just a bad team whose fans were using Favre and a perceived December dip as a scapegoat for the failed season.
Even during an 8-8 season in 2006, Favre threw more interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (four) in December, but the Packers also won more games in December than any other month of the year, just like the previous year. In a season that produced eight wins, four of those wins were in December. Favre had four passer ratings of 100 or better during the 2006 season, posting one in each month of the season.
So what's the reality over the last four Decembers for Favre? He has thrown 13 touchdowns and 31 interceptions … and still put up a winning record at 10-8. Maybe it's time to consider if the field conditions at Lambeau Field were harder on opposing quarterbacks than they were on Favre. And maybe last year was simply a product of his torn biceps tendon.
"I was going my whole career without anything and then all of the sudden just about every throw bothered me," Favre said.
Call it excuses or realize that there could be more circumstances to throwing interceptions than just the flip of a calendar month.
Now, after two interceptions in his first game of December 2009, observers are starting to wonder if Favre is hitting a perceived December swoon. Only Favre has the chance to rectify that perception.
"We kept seven linebackers, which (for) some people playing even defense (a 4-3) is one (person) high," Childress said. "So we were alright with the six that we had and then brought J. Leman in as a practice-squad guy."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.