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Favre, Weird Formations, And Throwing Deep

Football Outsiders' writers were watching the Packers vs. Vikings game and had some comments:

Bill Barnwell: I love the way Favre uses the pump fake to set up defenders. There was a deep slant that Favre set up not only with his eyes but with two pump fakes, creating three yards of separation for Jennings who, unfortunately, dropped the easy touchdown. Probably too much heat on the throw, too.

Favre's not fast, but he still has great motion within the pocket. He knows exactly where to move and improvises well with his head up, allowing him to still progress through his reads while, say, Henderson has come free on a blitz and is around Favre's ankle.

Packers are actually running all kinds of really weird formations -- a shotgun two-back formation with a fullback pretty much a yard behind the offensive linemen is strange to me, at least. Before that, they motioned into a full house backfield and then ran off-tackle to the weak side for nine yards. It's weird -- the Packers aren't throwing at all on the outside, only on the interior to Donald Lee and Jennings, strange considering Winfield is out.

Aaron Schatz: They actually use that one a lot. They also have a formation where the running back is not exactly a slot receiver but ends up sort of on the side right behind the linemen. I think the Packers have more unique formations than any other offense.

Bill Barnwell brought up something that I always bring up when discussing how old-Favre just can't move around anymore. He doesn't run like QB Vince Young, he never did anyway, but he still has that fantastic pocket presence which gets him out of many sacks.

The Packers under Mike McCarthy have run that shotgun formation where Favre has a back or tight end on each side, when healthy it was often TE Bubba Franks coming in motion then staying in the backfield to block, in each of the last two seasons. In 2006 it seemed like they ran the two back shotgun to help out the rookie offensive lineman. It's a little strange that they still run it a lot in 2007 now that the offensive line rookies now have a year's worth of experience, but it hasn't hurt the passing game. Something new in 2007 is a two fullback set run on obvious running downs, but it doesn't seem to give the Packers any additional push and I wonder if he will keep using that formation all season long.

Also, Aaron Schatz noticed that the Packers didn't throw it deep despite the absence of Minnesota's number one CB Antoine Winfield. Minnesota was determined to shut down the deep sideline pass. I rarely saw Minnesota's safeties because they seemed to be playing deep and toward the sidelines. Minnesota's cornerbacks and linebackers couldn't keep up with any of the Packers receivers, so Favre attacked the soft short and middle of the field. When he did try to go deep along the sidelines, it should have been picked off on the last TD pass to WR Ruvell Martin, but FS Darren Sharper collided with CB Cedric Griffin and they tipped the pass to Martin.