Favre Regains Pro Bowl Form of Old

Against all odds, the Green Bay Packers are currently one of the teams to beat in the NFC and appear to be playoff-bound. While the defense has played admirably and the offensive line has held steady, there is inevitably only one person who deserves the majority of the credit: quarterback Brett Favre.

Sure, he is a gun-slinging, throw-happy, interception-laden quarterback, but despite what his critics say, he is a winner. Favre has simply carried the Pack on his shoulders so far this season and the numbers speak for themselves. His 2,757 passing yards are the most in the league so far (90 yards ahead of Tom “All-American” Brady) and his 16 passing touchdowns are tied with the likes of Peyton “Six-Picks” Manning and Carson “Give Me A Defense” Palmer. In addition, he has thrown only eight interceptions, putting him on pace for his lowest season total since 1996, the year of Green Bay’s last Super Bowl.

But the most incredible aspect of Brett Favre’s performance is that he is doing it in the very late stages of his career. Many believed that he was finished after throwing as many picks (18) as he did touchdowns. Even the Packers seemed to sense that the end was coming when they drafted Aaron Rodgers with their first pick in 2005. Yet at 38, Favre keeps making the big plays and continues to perform like the ultimate man’s man. He doesn’t point fingers, plays through injuries and gives his best every week. Indeed, Favre has not missed a Packers game since 1992. Can you even imagine if your favorite team had the same quarterback for 16 straight seasons?

No matter how you slice it, the 2007 Packers are 8-1 and Frave is playing like it’s 1996 all over again. So what can we say about his incredible resurgence? Right off the bat, we must recognize his improved receiving corps. Veteran Donald Driver has been Favre’s most consistent wide receiver for the past several seasons and is on pace for 1,000 yards this year. Also added to the mix is third-year receiver Greg Jennings, who is having a spectacular season, and rookie James Jones, who has contributed several big plays so far. While these players have improved their game tremendously, they have also benefited from tapping into Favre’s vast football knowledge and leadership abilities. Even more worrisome for opposing defenses is the imminent return of the talented but troubled Koren Robinson. Who knows what Favre will be capable of when Robinson lines up as the slot receiver?

As for Favre, he seems to have rediscovered his touch on the football, especially on deep throws. He is connecting on 67% of his passes (several percentage points higher than his career average) and has completed four passes for 60 yards or more. Against the Broncos in Week 8, Favre threw a 79-yard bomb to James Jones for a touchdown to tie the game at seven in the first quarter. He then led the Pack to a 13-10 lead, only to have Jason Elam hit a game-tying field goal as regulation time expired. But Green Bay fans did not have to wait long, as Favre hit Jennings for an 81-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime. Both passes were perfectly thrown, displaying a combination of touch and power that I have not seen in a long time. Even Favre said after the game that the overtime throw was one of the one of two best throws of his career. It’s clearly evident than that Favre’s laser, rocket arm is certainly still intact.

The other amazing aspect of Brett Favre’s transformation is the Packer’s utter lack of a running game. Starting back DeShawn Wynn was placed on the injured reserve in late October, leaving fellow rookie Brandon Jackson and the unproven Ryan Grant to fill the void. Even with Wynn in the lineup, Green Bay ranked near the bottom of the league in rushing. This means that defenses know that Favre will be passing often, which will lead coaches to formulate their game plans around that idea. Yet still he is completing more than two-thirds of his passes. It may be due in part to good coaching as well, but Favre is beating defenses left and right despite the fact that they know what he plans to do. That’s like a hockey player scoring after telling the goalie where he would shoot the puck. One would think that opposing defenses would eventually catch up with him, but it has not happened yet. He has thrown for over 330 yards in each of his last three games, including 351 in a 34-0 blowout of the Vikings last weekend.

Can anyone stop Brett Favre? Will we see the Packers in the Super Bowl? If Favre continues to play the way he has in 2007 and keeps last year’s evil twin from coming out, it just might happen. The real question is how many more seasons does #4 have left in him?