Vikings coach Brad Childress and quarterback Brett Favre will meet the media on Wednesday. They’ll likely be asked a question or two, and they’ll likely offer up at least a semi-plausible answer to each one.
Here are 10 of the questions that we think need to be asked, regardless of whether all we get is a semi-plausible answer, or worse.
1. When will Favre take the field for the first time?
Few expected Favre to show up in time to take the trip to San Francisco for a Sunday night preseason game against the 49ers.
Will he travel with the team to California?
Will he take a few snaps against a 49ers team that probably would like to snap that bum ankle in order to improve its chances of qualifying for — and advancing in — the 2010 postseason?
2. Will Favre’s contract be adjusted?
A member of the media has reminded us of this quote from Gordon Gekko: “It’s all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation.”
At this point, it’s widely believed that the Vikings will give Favre a hefty raise. It’s also believed that Favre will “aw, shucks” his way through a monologue regarding how it’s not about the money.
If that’s the case, someone should ask him to declare that he’ll take nothing more than the $13 million he already is due to earn.
3. Are we really supposed to believe that a supposedly impromptu visit from three teammates prompted Favre to make up his mind on the spot?
The actual answer to this one is meaningless. It’ll just be interesting to see Childress and/or Favre try to offer an explanation that passes the smell test.
4. What did Dr. Andrews say last week about the ankle?
Favre’s ankle supposedly wasn’t recovering quickly enough. Last week, he visited with Dr. James Andrews. In the aftermath of the visit, no details have emerged regarding the condition of the joint.
So what did Andrews say to Favre about the ankle? Is it all of a sudden at 100 percent? Is it less than 100 percent? Will it improve or has it reached its ceiling?
5. What other injuries does Favre currently claim to have?
Last year, Favre talked openly (and repeatedly) about a laundry list of ailments and maladies. The exercise eventually forced the NFL to fine the Jets for failing to report the partially torn biceps tendon that he suffered during the 2008 season.
And it all became so ridiculous that we eventually added extra body parts (including “taint”) to the list of Favre’s supposedly injuries, along with a trio of illnesses — polio, swine flu, and lupus.
Beyond the ankle, he’ll surely point to some other injured area, if for no reason other than to have a built-in excuse in the event he throws five interceptions against the Saints on September 9.
6. Is the double standard that applies to Favre hurting the team?
Jimmy Johnson of FOX had some pointed remarks regarding the Vikings’ approach to Favre during Wednesday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show. (More on that later.) While we don’t expect Childress or Favre to say anything insightful or, you know, truthful on that point, it’s a fair question that needs to be posed to anyone and everyone in the organization.
The Vikings have been bending over backwards for Brett, and it possibly has created a sense in the locker room that other players deserve similar consideration. Some think that receiver Sidney Rice has been milking a hip injury; others think that receiver Percy Harvin made the very most out of his most recent bout with migraines. And don’t forget about running back Adrian Peterson’s bizarre decision to skip a mandatory minicamp so that he could attend a parade in his hometown. Could the treatment of Favre be emboldening them?
The 2009 Vikings by all appearances sold their souls for the possibility of getting back to the Super Bowl, and they seem to be willing to do it again, even as they deal with the possible aftermath of the first season with Favre in the fold.
7. Will the Vikings keep Sage Rosenfels?
It’s an issue that we’ve addressed in today’s edition of PFT Daily, which will be posted soon. (We suspect that you’re holding your breath, and possibly other bodily functions.)
Though we doubt that Childress will be providing a straight answer to the question, it remains a highly relevant question to the make up of the 2010 edition of the team.
8. Will the Vikings be as good in 2010 with Favre as they were in 2009?
This is a question that no one will be able to answer until the regular season begins to unfold. But it likely will be very difficult for the Vikings to match or improve on their 12-4 mark from a season ago.
For starters, they’ll play the teams of the NFC East this year, not the NFC West. Also, the Vikings have to face every team from a top-heavy AFC East, including trips to Foxborough and the new Meadowlands Stadium.
The team’s 13 opponents (they play three teams twice, obviously) will have had an entire offseason to study the film from Favre’s first year in purple for any and all tendencies and tells. We also have a feeling that every defensive coordinator will try to replicate the “remember me” shots the Saints applied to No. 4 in the NFC title game — and that the Saints likely will try to reprise on September 9.
While much of the roster has remained in place, the departure of underrated third-down back Chester Taylor and primary offensive line backup Artis Hicks could present real challenges for an attack that produced career-high statistics for Favre. Meanwhile, tailback Adrian Peterson will continue to be a pin cushion for pulling and punching and poking and prodding every time he tries to put the football under wraps.
On defense, everyone is a year older — and the secondary remains the biggest weakness on either side of the ball. With cornerback Cedric Griffin still recovering from a torn ACL suffered on the overtime kickoff of the NFC title game and linebacker E.J. Henderson still working his way back from a gruesomely broken leg, it remains to be seen whether the Vikings’ defense continues to be among the better units in the league.
9. Can Childress and Favre get along?
Last year, Childress himself drove Favre from the airport to the team facility. This year, Childress was nowhere to be seen.
We’ve heard persistent rumors that the players in Minnesota generally don’t like or respect Childress. Though no good head coach openly aspires to be liked by his players, a lack of respect could kill a team’s chances — especially if it starts with the quarterback whose ring, feet, and ass everyone kisses.
Last year’s twelve-men-in-the-huddle routine probably didn’t help matters.
After a home field advantage-killing loss to the Panthers on Sunday Night Football, troubling reports emerged regarding Chilly’s effort to bench Favre, regarding Favre’s resistance, and regarding Chilly’s angry reaction to news that Favre had blabbed out it. Thereafter, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported based on unnamed sources (i.e., Favre) that Childress “seldom” discussed the game plan with his quarterback, and that Childress “bristles” when Favre changes the play at the line of scrimmage.
For the Vikings to reach their full potential in 2010, whatever it may be, Favre and Childress need to be on the same page. Mo
re importantly, Favre needs
to ensure that his teammates buy in to Childress’ schemes and tactics and decisions, even when Favre otherwise may be inclined to disagree.
10. How will the Vikings fare this year?
In the PFT Season Preview magazine, which was written under the assumption that Favre will be back, I picked the Vikings to win the NFC North, but not to make it to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV. The rest of the crew pegged the Packers as division champs, with Rosenthal and MDS predicting a wild-card berth for Minnesota. (Silva has them not getting in at all.)
Whether the Vikings can win the division again or not, Favre probably will get the team back into the postseason tournament. But with the Cowboys looking to avenge last year’s 34-3 drubbing in the Metrodome and with the widely-overlooked Saints as potent as they were in 2009 and with a surprise team or two likely to emerge in the NFC, it will be even harder in 2010 for Favre to cap his career in the manner that he clearly covets — by winning another Super Bowl and walking away as the credits start to roll.
UPDATE: Someone also needs to ask Favre about Jenn Sterger. And then run.