Saturday, September 5, 2009
A backfire behind Favre
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
MINNEAPOLIS -- I think it’s fair to say Minnesota coach Brad Childress isn’t entirely comfortable with the quarterback depth on his roster even after the arrival of new starter Brett Favre.
Childress was steamed late Friday night about the play of backups Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty, each of whom had interceptions returned for touchdowns in the third quarter of a 35-31 loss to Dallas. Childress admitted he intentionally benched both of them for the transgression -- a rarity in the scripted world of the preseason -- and didn’t sound like a coach who has decided on the final configuration of the position.
Asked to assess the team’s quarterback play on a night Favre watched from the sidelines, Childress said, “At times it was embarrassing. And I’ll end up putting that on myself some, not having them ready to come out of the locker room at halftime. [But] all of the quarterbacks I’ve ever coached have some regard for the football and you can’t throw it them.”
Tarvaris Jackson started the game and played four series, completing 2 of 4 passes for 42 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown to tight end Jeff Dugan.
But on the first play of the third quarter, Rosenfels threw a short out pass into the hands of Dallas safety Patrick Watkins, who returned the interception 23 yards for a touchdown. Booty replaced Rosenfels for the next series. One the fifth play of that possession, however, he forced a pass to receiver Vinny Perretta. Dallas linebacker Steve Octavien grabbed it and dashed 44 yards for a score.
Then we were back to Rosenfels. Asked why he flipped quarterbacks the first time, Childress said: “Because he threw an interception for a touchdown.” Asked if that also explained why Booty sat down after one series, Childress said: “Pretty much, yep.”
Rosenfels seemed much less disturbed after completing 7 of 15 passes for 115 yards, noting that even Favre has thrown an interception or two (or 310) in his career.
“It always seems like you want to take back one play,” Rosenfels said. “I wish I could get that play back. Just a bad play by me. Other than that, I felt comfortable out there and did a pretty good job of executing the offense, other than that one play. So I’m going to keep firing. I talked to Brett. Brett’s overcome his fair share of interceptions. I think he has the NFL record. And he just keeps firing. So just keep firing and keep plugging away.”
Entering the game, we wondered which of the Vikings’ four quarterbacks would be spending his last day on the roster. After watching Childress’ reaction to Friday night’s game, it’s hard to imagine it being Jackson. For one night, at least, Jackson appeared to be the Vikings’ second-best quarterback. The team reportedly has been trying to trade him, but at this point I don’t believe Childress would feel comfortable with what he would be left with.
Jackson finished the preseason with a 118.4 passer rating, having completed 23 of 36 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’ve been having fun the past few weeks and that’s really all I can say,” Jackson said. “I feel like regardless of what happened here, my future is still bright in the NFL. I can’t control exactly what happens here. I can only control what happens on the field.”
Childress doesn’t seem to have the same comfort level with Rosenfels, but it would be foolish for the Vikings to release him four months after trading a fourth-round draft pick for him. That leaves Booty, who is still developing but could find his way to the practice squad.
I asked Childress about the possibility of keeping four quarterbacks on the active roster. He didn’t seem enthused by the idea.
“The No. 3 only plays a very, very small percentage of the time,” Childress said. “We’ve done some studies about that. Unless you think you have somebody that somebody else covets and might be able to get something for, that would be a reason to hold on to somebody. [You’re] hoping that you’re not getting to No. 4 during the season.”
We’ll know more Saturday. NFL rosters must be pared to 53 by 6 p.m. ET.
A few other points before we call it a night:
- Childress managed to sit all 22 starters. (Fullback Naufahu Tahi played on special teams only.) Also held out were backup receivers Percy Harvin and Bobby Wade, reserve linebacker Heath Farwell and backup tailback Chester Taylor. My instinct is to make a sarcastic remark about Childress taking it easy on so many players, but after watching Chicago and Green Bay on Thursday night, I suppose I understand. The Bears lost tailback Kevin Jones (ankle) for the season, while Green Bay rookie B.J. Raji limped off the field with an ankle injury.
- Receiver Darius Reynaud might have locked up a roster spot by returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.
- A sight to see: Defensive tackle Letroy Guion fumble while trying to move the ball to his left hand as he returned a second-quarter interception. Linebacker Kenny Onatolu recovered to maintain possession for the Vikings.
- Not sure what this means, but every time I noticed Favre on the sideline, he was talking to left guard Steve Hutchinson. Like Forrest and Jenny, they were two peas in a pod.