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Favre on Favre

I pointed out last week that QB Brett Favre's first three games of 2007 were very similar to 2006. Now we're past week 4 and Favre is still playing great. What is different about this season? Here's his take on the difference:

"I'd like to tell you there's some great big secret that we're doing now, but there is none," Favre said. "I understand the importance of no turnovers. I knew it five years ago. I knew it eight years ago, 10 years ago. I think Mike's doing a great job coaching, but he'd probably be the first to tell you there's no big secret that's behind these doors."
Is he playing just like he did in 2006? Yes and no. On one of the first plays against Minnesota, he threw a deep ball intended for WR Greg Jennings into triple coverage that was picked off by FS Darren Sharper. The play was called back on a penalty, so the interception isn't showing in the box score, but that was a pass he made far too often in the last few seasons. He would also throw the ball deep down the sidelines, seemingly up for grabs, and it was more likely to be intercepted over the last two seasons than actually caught by the receiver. Why isn't he throwing those bad passes anymore?

The first possible answer is that it's early. Just wait, he'll start gunslinging and throwing ill advised passes any day now. The other possible answer is that he is much better when playing alongside WR James Jones, who is a reliable second option. Favre played well over the first nine games of 2006, throwing 13 TDs and 7 INTs. He played well after Jennings was hurt in the 6th game of 2006 because former Packer TE David Martin stepped up as a second option to WR Donald Driver. But after Martin got hurt in the 9th game at Minnesota, the wheels came off. Jennings had come back three weeks earlier, but he wasn't the same after his injury. Yes Jennings has caught 2 TD passes in 2 games since his return in 2007, but Football Outsiders still rates him as below average, in part because Favre only completed 54% of his passes to Jennings while almost 66% overall. While Jones isn't WR Randy Moss good, he is above average, and so is WR Ruvell Martin according to FO, and he has played in every game this season. The simple answer is probably the correct one; when Favre plays every game alongside another above average wide receiver not named Donald Driver, he is a much better player.