A Favre statistic that tops others

Brett Favre had numerous impressive statistics and some personal bests in 2010. But the level of play to which he increased his receivers produced a franchise first.

If there was ever a statistic that speaks to the value Brett Favre had with the Vikings last year, some may point to his completion percentage (68.4 percent) – the second-highest in franchise history. Others may cite the second-highest passer rating in team history (107.2). Still others may point to his astounding touchdown-to-interception ratio (33 touchdowns, seven interceptions).

All of those are valid points, but they don't tell the full story, which is much more impressive, especially given Favre's Hall of Fame body of work. He not only threw for 4,204 yards, just the fourth time in team history a quarterback topped 4,000 yards passing in a season, but he found a way to spread the ball around like no other quarterback ever has for the Vikings. A team-record six players had 40 or more receptions last year – Sidney Rice (83), Percy Harvin (60), Visanthe Shiancoe (56), Bernard Berrian (55), Chester Taylor (44) and Adrian Peterson (43).

What the Vikings accomplished was not only unprecedented in the NFL last year, but in the history of the franchise. Only three times in franchise history did the Vikings have five players with 40 or more receptions (1978, 1980 and 1981). In six seasons, they had four players with 40-plus catches. In 24 of their 49 seasons, they had either two or three players with 40 or more receptions (12 each). In 10 seasons, they had just one (1961, 1964, 1966, 1968, all five seasons between 1970-74 and 2007 – Brad Childress' second season as head coach). They also had five seasons with no players catching 40 passes – 1962, 1967, their only NFL championship season of 1969 and the strike-shortened years of 1982 and 1987.

Much of the trend upward in the passing game never really hit with the Vikings. Of the three seasons in which the Vikings had five players catch 40 or more passes, one was the final season in which Fran Tarkenton was the Vikings QB and the other two came with Tommy Kramer at the wheel. In neither case did they have a dominant running back. Chuck Foreman ran for less than 800 yards in 1978 and Ted Brown was the go-to running back in the other two seasons. The fact the Vikings were able to have a dominant runner like Adrian Peterson to take a lot of the heat off the passing game makes the achievement in 2009 even more impressive.

It could be argued that the reason for the Vikings' six-pack of 40-reception receivers was due to the growing influx of passing in the NFL. That argument doesn't really hold water under scrutiny, however. Despite a record number of passes thrown in 2009, only four other teams – Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle – had five players catch 40 or more passes. Most teams checked in between two and four players with 40 or more catches – eight teams had four players, 11 had three and five had two. Two teams – Oakland and Tampa Bay – had just one and the Cleveland Browns had none (their leading receiver was Mohammed Massaquoi with 34).

One would think that Favre would have had plenty of similar seasons on his resume, but, prior to last year, the most players he ever had with 40-plus receptions was four, which he did six times, including his lone season with the Jets in 2008. Aside from the five seasons with four players with 40+ receptions in Green Bay, he had 10 seasons with three players catching 40 or more passes and just two in which he had only two – his personal low-water mark.

Favre brought a lot of things to the Vikings in 2009. The enthusiasm his arrival engendered was unprecedented. His numbers were incredible. But it may well have been his ability to get so many of his offensive teammates involved week in, week out that made the Vikings offense click like few times in the history of the organization and may be a reason some NFL insiders expect to see the Vikings' Super Bowl drought end with a title this year in their 50th season.


  • There has been a lot of buzz at Vikings OTA about the performance of Asher Allen. With Cedric Griffin out and Antoine Winfield absent from the workouts, Allen has got a lot of work with the first-team defense and is making the most of it.

    "There's a lot of competition coming in this year," said Allen, who was pressed into duty as a rookie starter last year. "We already have Ced and Antoine and Benny (Sapp) and we added Lito Sheppard in the offseason. I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunity to get some playing time now. I think I've improved a lot over the last year and I look forward to showing the coaches that I can handle anything they want me to do."

  • It's ironic that a quote from kicker Ryan Longwell is getting so much play over the "world wide interweb" of sports for his recent comment that Favre's return is a "50-50" proposition in his mind. Late last season, I was making small talk with Longwell about Favre's chances of returning for another season and Longwell smiled and said, "It's 50-50. Either he will or he won't. Isn't that how it always is? It's 50-50 the sun will come up tomorrow. Either it will or it won't. I'm thinking it will." Perspective is good with someone who knows Favre as well as Longwell does.

  • If Favre's return had any to do with Southern Mississippi making the College World Series, bad news is coming for Vikings fans. Southern Miss lost Sunday. Likely, Favre wasn't serious about that.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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