Tag:Brett Favre
Posted on: June 9, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 10:42 am

Vikings have faith in Ponder but won't rush him

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Yesterday we mentioned that free agent Matt Hasselbeck might be a possible stopgap in Tennessee should Seattle choose not to re-sign him. Hasselbeck mentored rookie Titans quarterback Jack Locker when Locker was at the University of Washington, and Hasselback has ties to the Titans front office.

Plus, he's 35. Any stint in Tennessee would be a short one. Ideally, Hasselback would bridge the gap between broken dreams (Vince Young) and renewed hope (Locker), a gig Kerry Collins doesn't sound all that interested in.

We bring this up because Locker isn't the only rookie quarterback who could begin the season under center. First-overall pick Cam Newton seems a long shot to win a starting job out of training camp, but it's too early to rule out the Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert and the Vikings' Christian Ponder.

Players and coaches are forbidden from talking to each other during the lockout, but the lockout is giving Minnesota offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave plenty of time to plan for the upcoming season.

First up: keep it simple. Which means that whoever's the QB, he'll have to be proficient at taking the snap, pivoting, and handing the ball to No. 28. And there will be the occasional throw -- probably off rollouts and bootlegs -- to, you know, keep defenses honest.

"We'll major in giving the ball to Adrian (Peterson), and we'll need a quarterback that can keep defenses honest and can have a little bit of movement to himself," Musgrave, who once was a backup quarterback with Dallas, San Francisco and Denver, told the Star Tribune's Judd Zulag. "Not just be a statue back there because with the pieces that are in place we won't be just a drop-back, stay-in-the-pocket type team. We're going to really attack the defense on the edges both with Adrian and also our quarterback."

We have yet to hear from Titans coaches about their plans for Locker, but running back Chris Johnson was under the impression Monday that it was Locker's job to lose. "Everybody knows [Jake's] going to be the starting quarterback so he needs to be ready come Game 1," he said.

Musgrave isn't quite ready to commit to Ponder ... yet.

"…[I]t's hard to speculate at this stage. We just don't know. There are so many contingency plans because there are so many unknowns.

"I do know this," Musgrave added. "I know that Christian has a broad-based background on offensive football from Florida State, and he'll be able to jump in there and keep his head above water. We'll hope to do a good job and enable him to maintain his confidence and develop and get comfortable at the same time."

In the weeks and months leading up to the draft, the knock against Locker was that he struggled with accuracy. That's a huge problem in the NFL, where the defensive backs get faster and the windows get smaller. For Ponder, there were concerns about his ability to stay healthy and his arm strength. But he was the most consistent player at the Senior Bowl in January, and looked even better at the February combine. By late April, draft experts were saying things like, "Perhaps no quarterback in this draft class has a better command of the game's subtleties."

That is great news for a franchise that can focus on other things this summer than Brett Favre's annual un-retirement tour.

Musgrave and Ponder spent a few hours talking football when the lockout was briefly lifted in late April. It was enough time for Ponder to get a playbook, and later pass on what he learned to teammates at workouts he organized last week in Bradenton, Fla.
Vikes Offseason

Even in a normal offseason, it would be difficult for a rookie quarterback to win a starting job. We're currently 86 days into the lockout with no end in sight. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was noncommittal on whether the team would sign a veteran QB, although some fans think Donovan McNabb would be the perfect candidate (we disagree).

But even if Ponder is forced into duty it doesn't mean Minnesota's season is doomed; Musgrave came from Atlanta where he played a big role in Matt Ryan's development. The Falcons were 19-29 in the three years before Ryan arrived in 2008. They're 31-12 in the three years since, including two 11-plus win seasons. Ideally, rookie quarterbacks learn by watching, but surround them with a stout defense and playmakers at the skill positions (check and check, in Minnesota's case) and the results will occasionally surprise you.

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 3:54 pm

Is this the inglorious end to McNabb's career?

D. McNabb (US Presswire)Posted by Ryan Wilson

Donovan McNabb remains a man without a team. Technically, he's still with the Redskins, but as soon as there's a 2011 season, he'll be free to hawk his wares elsewhere. The problem: "elsewhere" could turn into "nowhere." The former Eagles first-round pick hasn't drummed up much rumor-mill interest during the lockout. This could mean that teams keen on McNabb's talents are downplaying it for now (as typically happens in the days leading up to the NFL Draft). Or, more likely, there truly isn't a market for him.

Free-agent running back Michael Robinson told ESPN.com's John Clayton recently that he predicts McNabb will end up with the Vikings.

"[McNabb] keeps telling me all he wants to do is get with a team and take them to a Super Bowl," Robinson added.

There was no mention if McNabb would be willing to go on that Super Bowl ride as a backup, because there are plenty of teams (although none are contenders) looking for "mentors."
Vikes Offseason

Stats -- the everyday NFL.com ones that we're all familiar with and the advanced stats from Football Outsiders and Pro Football Reference -- are one way to determine just how good a quarterback is. Another, simpler way: play the "Would I want that guy starting for my team?" game. For most fans, McNabb would garner an "absolutely not," which tells you all you need to know.

It's too bad, too, because McNabb seems like a decent guy. Despite a career pock-marked by unprovoked criticism, McNabb has seldom responded publicly. But we've mentioned it before -- that's part of the deal. Want to be an NFL quarterback? Be prepared for the inevitable media backlash that comes with it. And no one's immune. If Patriots fans feign outrage over Tom Brady wearing a Yankees hat, McNabb doesn't stand a chance. Also not helping: his recent on-field performance.

The last two seasons, McNabb ranked 20th and 25th in Football Outsiders' QB total value metric. In 2010, he finished behind the likes of Jon Kitna and David Garrard. Not exactly a ringing endorsement that McNabb deserves to be a starter.

And now, barely a year after the Redskins gave up a second-round pick to division rival Philly to land McNabb, they're happy to move on without him, even if that means turning to John Beck.

Would McNabb be a good fit for the Vikings? Probably not. Minnesota just rid it of one old-timer. While rookie Christian Ponder may not be NFL-ready whenever the season begins, McNabb lost his job to Rex Grossman. That's shorthand for "he'll never be NFL-ready again … ever." If the Vikings manage their expectations for 2011 and stick with Ponder, they should be in good shape going forward. If they instead buy into the "we're one veteran QB away from the Super Bowl!" hype, Ponder will end up wasting away on the bench.

We don't expect that to happen, thanks largely to the team's recent experiences with Brett Favre, but also because to annually contend for a championship you need a franchise quarterback. For McNabb, that ship sailed a while ago.

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Posted on: May 30, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 4:40 pm

Analyst says Flacco needs to work harder

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Last week, NFL Network's Jamie Dukes spoke frankly about Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

"He still may have to work a little harder than he's working right now," Dukes said on Wednesday's Total Access. "There's no question he's a talented quarterback. But from what I hear coming out of that locker room, he studies but some say he might need to put a little more time in. That's what I hear."

Dukes' comments came nearly two months after Flacco first lobbied for a contract extension. "I think I've established myself," Flacco told the Baltimore Sun's Jamison Hensley at the time.

Dukes' accusation that Flacco "might need to put a little more time in" was news to Sun's blogger Matt Vensel, who writes that "Flacco is notorious for roaming the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills on off days and he has probably been at the facility shaking on doors during the lockout.

"He even organized a hotel sleepover party with Ravens rookies Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss and Tyrod Taylor on Monday night and drove them to Tuesday’s workout at Towson University."

Clearly, there is more to this story than Flacco's study habits. Before recommitting himself to being an upstanding human, Ben Roethlisberger had never been mistaken for Peyton Manning in the film room. He was supposedly aloof and not much of a locker room guy. The difference: he won two Super Bowls in his first five years in the NFL. The old cliche "winning fixes everything" fits here, and it's reasonable to believe that if the Ravens had managed to win it all during Flacco's first three years in the league we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

Remember, until Aaron Rodgers put the Packers on his back against the Steelers in the Super Bowl four months ago, most media stories were about his inability to "win it all." Never mind that he not only exceeded everyone's expectations when he took over for Brett Favre in 2008, but was a top-10 quarterback in FootballOutsiders.com's total value metric in each of his three seasons as a starter (and in '10, he ranked fourth behind Tom Brady, Manning and Philip Rivers). Yet, it took a championship to legitimize him in the eyes of the media.

Is it fair? Of course not. But it's not unexpected, either. It's part of the implicit pact you make: earn millions as an NFL quarterback with the understanding that you'll endure all that comes with it -- both on and off the field. For Rodgers, that meant stepping out of Favre's shadow and doing the impossible: replacing a legend and playing so well that fans forgot about No. 4.

Luckily, there isn't much of a quarterback track record in Baltimore. Former head coach Brian Billick made sure of that. But it doesn't mean expectations aren't high. Linebacker and de facto team leader Ray Lewis has been outspoken more than once in his 15-year career about the offense carrying its weight. And fans are even less forgiving, especially when two of the Ravens' playoff losses during Flacco's tenure have come at the hands of the hated division rival Steelers.

As is always the case, it's not enough to just implore the quarterback to play better and the offense will magically refashion itself into the 2007 Patriots. Flacco shares some of the blame, for sure, but the Ravens' offensive line struggled at times last season. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Flacco was blitzed on 50 percent of dropbacks (second in the NFL behind only Bruce Gradkowski of the Raiders), pressured on a third of those blitzes, sacked 24 percent of the time, and completed just 47 percent of his passes.

Not Pro Bowl numbers, but about average, which is what one-time Ravens QB of the future Kyle Boller aspired to. (Again citing FootballOutsiders.com, Flacco ranked 11th in total value among all NFL quarterbacks in 2010.)

Either way, defenses went after Flacco because they identified a weakness in the blocking scheme, felt that Flacco didn't respond well to pressure, or some combination of the two. The remedy requires more than Flacco improving his study habits, as Dukes suggest. The pass-blocking has to improve, the receivers have to run better routes, and ultimately, Flacco has to limit his mistakes. But one without the others is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. 

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 11:10 pm

Favre hanging with Southern Miss baseball team

Posted by Andy Benoit

We haven’t had many Brett Favre “will he unretired?” stories this offseason, but it’s not even June yet. The future Hall of Fame quarterback has been spending most of his days this spring hanging out with the Southern Mississippi baseball team.

Favre has attended several games in Hattiesburg, MS, has sat in the dugout and, recently, threw out the opening pitch in the first round of the Conference USA Baseball Championship. (Conference USA has video of it – it’s probably the fastest ceremonial pitch you’ll ever see.)

Favre told reporters afterwards that he has no thoughts on the lockout and that his focus right now is solely on the Southern Miss baseball team.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: May 11, 2011 6:42 pm

Brett Favre says he's still 'done with football'

Posted by Will Brinson

Brett Favre toured a Wrangler facility that was destroyed by a tornado in Hackleburg, Alabama (he's a spokesman, obviously, and from the area). And you'll never guess what someone asked him about.

No, it actually wasn't what more people can do to assist in helping to rebuild the southern areas that have been devastated by the tornados. It was whether or not he's coming back to football in 2011.

The best part, of course, was that Marion County Commission President Don Barnwell was the one who asked Favre about his potential return.

And Favre, per the Associated Press, told Barnwell he was "done with football."

He also said that he wasn't sure if there "would be any football" in 2011, so maybe he's just slow-playing things.

Or perhaps he's just angling for a chance at mentoring Cam Newton.

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 8:11 pm

Favre would be 'delighted to work with' Newton

Posted by Will Brinson

One of the big concerns with new Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton is that he might not have the best advisors in the world. That's not supposed to be an affront to his agent Bus Cook or his family or his friends, it's just a statement of fact given what happened during his final year at Auburn.

So how about we give him a mentor? Like, say, Brett Favre???

That's the idea that former Panther and current radio host Brentson Bucker came up with, via USA Today. "What better guy for Brett to coach than the No. 1 overall pick,'' said Buckner. "And what better guy for Cam Newton to learn from than a future Hall of Famer."

Randomly: Bucker's the only NFL jersey I've ever purchased, because his first name and my last name are phonetically similar. But does that little piece of meaningless trivia qualify him to suggest that Favre mentor Newton? Well, probably not.

But the two do share an agent ... and Favre is poking around about a new career.

"Brett has offered to do that before with Cam," Cook said on Tuesday. "He would obviously be delighted to work with Cam. They've met and they've talked."

Bucker makes a good point that it would help Newton because right now, with the lockout in effect, he can't get any advice from people who know what they're doing.

But there's also another problem here: as great as Favre might be, he's been best known in recent years for two things that might not really be ideal for a mentor. The Jenn Sterger issue, and refusing to allow Aaron Rodgers to come of age.

One has to think that if the Carolina Panthers decided to hire or -- heaven forbid -- sign Favre that it might be difficult for him to ever accept a role as a backup.

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Posted on: May 6, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2011 1:24 pm

Favre looking for a new career

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Brett Favre is not coming back to football. We think. But you can never say never until the 2011 season begins and he’s not on the field (well, technically, in the video in the link below, he is on a field, but it’s a high school practice field, and he doesn’t appear to be working out).

Even so, WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg, Miss., caught up with Favre to ask him about his future plans. Coaching or maybe some TV work, he said, but nothing anytime soon.

In the interview, which can be seen in the video in the link above, he also talks about how he doesn’t like running and two-a-day practices. Really? You don’t say.

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Category: NFL
Tags: Brett Favre
Posted on: April 29, 2011 10:22 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 12:31 am

Cobb waited an awfully long time in green room

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NEW YORK – Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, in a best-case scenario, actually thought he had a chance to sneak into the first round of the NFL draft. So, there he sat in the green room, and he didn’t hear his name called during Thursday’s first 32 picks.

Cobb Surely, he must have thought, I’ll go early in the second round, so I won’t have to sit here too long. Then, the Cardinals took Ryan Williams and Williams left the green room, and the Broncos took Rahim Moore and Morris left as well. And there was Cobb all by himself.

And he waited some more.

Maybe he thought he was cursed, especially when you hear about the dream he had recently. Somehow, someway, Brett Favre had returned to Green Bay, and, in a very matter of fact manner, told Cobb nobody would draft him.

“It scared the mess out of me,” Cobb said, after the Packers had taken him in the second round with the No. 64 pick. “I woke up in a sweat.”

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And until the Packers selected him, he was living a nightmare.

“As the draft kept going, it was a concern,” Cobb said. “But I always had faith.”

That faith was rewarded when the Super Bowl champs took him and made him a very happy (and relieved) wide receiver.

“I would have waited until the seventh round if I could go to the Packers,” Cobb said. “It was well worth the wait.”

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