MMQB Mail: Vikings make mistake with Favre, plus Westin fallout
Vikings should have waited until other QBs struggled before signing Brett Favre
Brian Dawkins says Donovan McNabb needs Michael Vick to push him
E-mails about fans' intelligence, Kyle Orton's internal clock and hotel boycotts
"I'm sure I'll regret my decision down the road.''
Down the road? That's a pretty short road. More like a driveway.
"I'm leaving an incredible opportunity on the table, and that opportunity is not coming back.''
Yes it is.
You would think I think this Brett Favre-to-Minnesota story is great, but I don't. I think it's wrong. I think it's a circus. And I think Minnesota coach Brad Childress is making a mistake.
If I were Childress, I'd have waited until Sage Rosenfels struggled -- if he struggled -- and then made the call to Favre. By doing it now, Childress loses Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson; how can they ever trust anything he says now? I'm sure both are furious, and Rosenfels, particularly, is crushed. And the way Favre talked to me three weeks ago, there's a chance he won't last the season and Childress will have to turn to one of his angry quarterbacks.
What Favre told me late last month he wasn't coming back because he felt totally beat after some hard summer workouts, how could he think he'd have enough stamina to make it through a season? He simply didn't think he'd be able to handle the physical rigors of the season. "I just didn't think my body would hold up the way it had in the past,'' he said.
The perfect scenario would have been for the Vikings to see if Rosenfels or Jackson played well enough through a piece-of-cake early schedule (at Cleveland, at Detroit, San Francisco), and if the position was an Achilles heel, then reach out to Favre to see if he was interested. By doing it now, Childress tells his team he doesn't trust Rosenfels or Jackson. That could come back to haunt him if Favre's body breaks down.
Childress has looked like a desperate man throughout this melodrama. He made it known internally that Favre had to do at least some work in the offseason program or the veteran mini-camp to be considered. Favre never showed. Then he had to come by the start of camp. Favre didn't come, opting for his third false retirement in 17 months. Now the Vikings let him come back after the team has gone through training camp. Favre's the wishy-washiest player in memory -- and the Vikings are his enablers. It's ridiculous.
Brian Dawkins looks funny in orange. But there he is, on the practice field at the Denver Broncos training facility, wearing an orange shirt. On Monday morning, protecting a well-wrapped right hand that had a plate surgically inserted to protect a broken bone, not practicing full-out, Dawkins still looked like he always looked with the Eagles in practice or in games -- like he wanted to knock someone into next week.
Part of Dawkins will always be in Philadelphia -- most of Dawkins, in fact -- and so it seemed logical to ask him what he thought of the Eagles signing Michael Vick, and what he thought of Donovan McNabb's role in it.
"Signing him surprised me,'' said Dawkins in between Monday's two Bronco practices here at their training facility. "But Donovan being behind it ... no. No surprise at all.''
I told him what I'd reported in Monday Morning Quarterback -- that McNabb, shortly after Roger Goodell reinstated Vick to the NFL July 27, text-messaged coach Andy Reid with two words: "Sign him.''
"I remember many times when Donovan would be talking to Michael on the phone, either in the locker room or out somewhere,'' said Dawkins. "I'd talk to him too. You could tell how Donovan took his relationship with Michael very seriously. He's always been the kind of guy to reach out to young quarterbacks, particularly young African-American quarterbacks, because he felt if he could help them early in their career, he wanted to do that. He'd tell Michael, and some of the other guys, 'Come to Arizona and train with me.' He just felt it was part of his job as a guy who'd been there before.''
Too bad Vick never did. Too bad Vick spent his offseason time training too little for football and training dogs too much to fight.
I asked Dawkins what I had asked former teammate Ike Reese and coach Andy Reid over the weekend: How will McNabb react if he slumps and Vick rises, and the crowd is chanting for Vick?
"Interesting,'' said Dawkins. "I'll just say that if there's anyone who's been through the fire as a quarterback, it's Donovan. The crowd in Philadelphia has chanted for A.J. Feeley, for Koy Detmer for Kevin Kolb. Donovan stood strong. This is no different. But I honestly think having someone pressing him will be good for Donovan, if it happens. At the end of the day, let's be honest: Eventually Michael will want Donovan's job.''
And this is what I think, and what I believe Andy Reid thinks: If the Eagles tell 21 starting players that they could be replaced if they don't play well, and if the 22nd (McNabb) is immune to that, how fair is it to the team?
Plus, Dawkins is right about the competitive aspect. If Kolb is pushing McNabb, McNabb knows Kolb is not good enough to beat him out. But if Vick is pushing him, McNabb knows he could lose that one. What Reid thinks, I'm sure, is that his team is better off having Vick in for five or six offensive snaps a game, and his team is better off having McNabb think: If I'm lousy for three games in a row, Andy's pulling me for my little buddy Vick, and I might not get my job back.
"That's right," said Dawkins. "Signing Michael means Donovan will make sure his game stays tight.''
And that, I think, is a side benefit to all of this that too few of us realize now, with the season three-plus weeks away.
Now onto your e-mail:
JUST THE OPPOSITE. From Ian of Overland Park, Kan.: "I haven't really been hearing anything positive out of Chiefs camp about the players' reaction to Todd Haley. From what you've seen or heard, is Haley's Parcells-ish style turning off some players? More importantly, is it hard for NFL vets to take the demands of a coach like Haley, who has never played high-level football?''
When I was in River Falls, I asked five veteran players about Haley, and whether the team had bought into what he was selling. Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters said he'd have to wait to make a judgment on whether Haley was doing the right things. Larry Johnson was OK with Haley's aggressive, physical practices. Bobby Engram has bought in. Matt Cassel has bought in. Bernard Pollard has bought in.
Ian, this is my belief: When a team stinks, as the Chiefs do, and a coach with a pretty good track record comes in, the only way you can judge the coach is if you get in the boat with him, row hard, and see where the sea takes you. Like him or not, the Chiefs have a smart coach who is an equal-opportunity abuser. I heard it in the two practices I watched. Haley got after Cassel and Pollard, and a free-agent wide receiver four months removed from a college campus. For players to judge him correctly, Haley has to have a chance to do things his way.
DO NOT BURY ORTON YET. From Gabe Millan of Denver: "Do you think Orton's internal clock has to readjust to actually having a decent offensive line? On his three interceptions, he rushed his passes when he was in no danger of getting sacked. I guess I'm just looking for some kind of silver lining around our dismal QB situation."
Excellent observation! I asked Orton on Monday about his first interception, the one by 49ers cornerback Nate Clements, when Clements was side-by-side with Denver tight end Daniel Graham in the end zone while Peyton Hillis ran free nearby when his cover man slipped. Orton said he'd already decided to throw to Graham, and what he should have done is throw the ball out of the end zone. I don't buy that. I know I'm doing a classic second-guess, but I believe Orton has to be able to make that split-second read to Hillis, especially with Graham closely guarded.
But, Gabe, you make a great point that goes hand-in-hand with mine. Orton had tremendous protection in San Francisco, and I believe he needs to learn to trust the best set of tackles in the game (Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris) and take time to make the right read back there. If he encounters a play when he doesn't have an open man, he simply has to throw it away. Because on the next snap, it's likely he'll find one open.
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