NFC North: Preseason 082110

Four whole plays for Brett Favre

August, 22, 2010
Brett FavreKyle Terada/US PresswirePatrick Willis of the 49ers welcomed Brett Favre back to the NFL on Sunday.

Let's see how many words I can write on four plays. Because that's all the action Brett Favre saw Sunday night in his preseason debut at San Francisco.

(*You'll find out the total if you stick around until the end of this post. The suspense builds....)

The short version: Favre completed one pass and absorbed one pretty good lick, courtesy of an Adrian Peterson "olÚ " that will make Minnesota Vikings coaches think twice about using him as their third-down back this season.

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
AP Photo/Tony AvelarBrett Favre had just four plays against the 49ers, completing one pass for 13 yards.
The Vikings originally planned to play Favre up to 10 plays, but coach Brad Childress had seen enough after 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis blew past Peterson and crunched Favre on a second-and-13 play. (And don't try to tell me that Peterson faced the unenviable task of blocking two free blitzers on the play. He chose Willis and never looked at linebacker Takeo Spikes.)

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called a draw on third down, and backup Tarvaris Jackson took over on the Vikings' next series. Four days after reporting to the Vikings' practice facility, Favre's only pass was a 13-yard swing pass to Peterson. The outing was reminiscent of his Vikings debut in the 2009 preseason, when he completed 1 of 4 passes and absorbed a pair of brutal hits.

Like last year, Favre accomplished the primary mission of getting his feet wet -- and then getting out in one piece. I imagine he'll play a half or possibly longer in the Vikings' next preseason game, scheduled for Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

Frankly, Favre's pre-game interview with ESPN's Ed Werder was much more interesting. During the discussion, Favre revealed that he spoke twice to the full team last week. The first came during a previously-reported meeting last Wednesday before his first practice.

Favre called the second meeting, however, following a report that indicated he has an adversarial relationship with Childress. The source was identified as an anonymous player, and Favre said he relayed this message to his teammates: "If something is being said in here -- by whoever, it's got to stop. It's hard enough to win as it is. Success does crazy things. So we had a good meeting."

For a few reasons, we haven't really discussed the report on this blog. First, we documented Favre and Childress butting heads a number of times last season. So that's already part of the landscape between the two men. I think Favre knows full well what he's getting himself into, for better or worse. Here's where we landed last year:
Playing quarterback for Childress in this offense isn't easy. It requires a certain acceptance of subordination to its concepts and administration, even if you're a seasoned veteran with Super Bowl trophies on your mantle. Favre is only the latest quarterback to make that discovery.

Second, it's hard to imagine Favre would have agreed to play this season if his animus for Childress was so acute. They might not send each other Christmas cards, but whatever issues they had in 2009 still resulted in arguably the best season of Favre's career as well as a trip to the NFC Championship Game. I'm guessing the big picture prevailed here.

Like anything, the Favre-Childress relationship will come under heavy scrutiny if the Vikings have a disappointing season. If they win at a similar clip as last season, I'm guessing we won't hear much more. So let's leave it with a Flash Gordon-like conclusion: "The End ... ?"

(*Not counting contractions, but including this parenthetical, we're at 590 words. Not bad, huh?)

NFC North preseason Week 2 review*

August, 22, 2010
Let's take a quick look back after three of our four teams played their second preseason game Saturday night:

(*The Minnesota Vikings are one day behind and will take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.)

Oakland Raiders 32, Chicago Bears 17
Preseason record:
Of interest:
Ugh. Yuck. Feel free to provide any other words you would like. About the only good news Saturday night was Matt Forte's legitimately electric 89-yard touchdown jaunt, during which I saw nice blocks from center Olin Kreutz, tight end Kellen Davis and right guard Lance Louis. Otherwise, the night bordered on fiasco for the Bears. Quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked five times in the first half, a total that will do nothing to lessen preseason concerns about the offensive line. The Bears entered the game without a long snapper because of Patrick Mannelly's neck injury, leading to a pair of botched kick attempts on a night when the Bears also had another punt blocked. And as the first-team defense gave up 170 passing yards in the first half to Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher stood on the sideline with a calf injury that isn't deemed serious. If you're scoring at home, and in August there really isn't much reason to, the Bears have been outscored in the preseason 57-27.
Local coverage: Cutler called the sack total "unacceptable," according to Michael C. Wright of No offfensive lineman looked worse than left tackle Chris Williams, writes Jeff Dickerson of It's hard not to be concerned with Urlacher's health, writes Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times. David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune: "Of all the things that will make Lovie Smith and his staff uncomfortable reviewing the 32-17 loss to the Raiders, the play of the starting defense should make everyone question whether the cups really are half-full at Halas Hall."
Saturday vs. Arizona Cardinals

Detroit Lions 25, Denver Broncos 20
Preseason record: 1-1
Of interest: The first-team offense scored on all four possessions, although coach Jim Schwartz was disappointed that three drives stalled in the red-zone and left the Lions kicking sub-30 yard field goals. Quarterback Matthew Stafford avoided mistakes and connected with receiver Calvin Johnson for a touchdown in a second consecutive game. The Lions also got a taste of tailback Jahvid Best's everydown explosion; he rushed for 49 yards on eight carries. But there appeared to be minimal improvement at best for the defense. Although cornerback Dre Bly set up Johnson's touchdown with an interception off a tipped pass, the defense gave up 177 passing yards to Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton in the first half. Linebacker Zack Follett missed a tackle on Lance Ball's 15-yard scoring reception and was trailing on Marquez Branson's 11-yarder just before halftime. But the Lions went home with a smile after watching third-string quarterback Drew Stanton take a quarterback draw 25 yards for the eventual winning score.
Local coverage: Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "For the second time in as many exhibition season games, the Lions' first-team offense looked sharp. The secondary, not so much." In his first preseason outing, tailback Kevin Smith looked "OK," writes Carlos Monarrez of the Free Press. Stafford referred to Johnson's touchdown catch as "special," writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. In the first series, Best had runs of 15 and 11 yards, notes Tom Kowalski of
Next: Saturday vs. Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers 27, Seattle Seahawks 24
Preseason record:
Of interest: It's hard to start with anyone but quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who put together another sharp performance. In two preseason outings, Rodgers has a near-perfect 154.0 passer rating. He's completed 20 of 24 passes for 275 yards, with three touchdowns and no sacks. Saturday night, he hit receiver Greg Jennings for 56 yards on his first pass, and then connected four times with tight end Jermichael Finely, including a wide-open 12-yard touchdown pass. The defense was without cornerback Charles Woodson and both inside linebackers, so we have to grade on a curve after it allowed consecutive touchdown drives. But since I've been making such a big fuss about nose tackle B.J. Raji, I did focus on him for several series. My amateur eyes didn't see much push, and Seahawks lineman Sean Locklear cut Raji to the ground on Leon Washington's 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. For what it's worth ...
Local coverage: Rodgers' preseason play has been "out of this world," writes Jason Wilde of The Packers' first-team offense has logged 310 yards in 17 plays this preseason, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "There's a good chance the Green Bay Packers will go through the entire preseason without their starting linebacking corps getting any work together." Wilde on the Packers' defense: "Vanilla or not, it looks like the Green Bay Packers' defense has plenty to work on between now and the Sept. 12 regular-season opener at Philadelphia."
Next: Thursday vs. Indianapolis Colts (ESPN)