NFL

The Day After: Is Favre coach and QB?

Brett Favre (Getty Images)
Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings at Edward Jones Dome on October 11, 2009 in...
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John Czarnecki

John Czarnecki has been the editorial consultant for "FOX NFL Sunday" since its 1994 inception. This season marks Czarnecki's 32nd year covering the NFL. He is one of 44 selectors to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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You have to wonder right now if Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is having second thoughts about giving Brad Childress a contract extension.

Isn't Brett Favre the real coach of the Vikings? And isn’t he the real reason the Vikings whipped the Packers twice and won the NFC North?

And, finally, the best coach in Carolina Sunday night was John Fox, but we all knew that before the coin toss. His only regret this morning is wondering why he didn’t pull the plug on his favorite quarterback, Jake Delhomme, sooner.

Ah, coaches and their quarterbacks. Every relationship is different.

You would have thought, after watching the Saints get knocked from the unbeaten ranks Saturday night, that the Vikings would have played inspired football one night later. But that wasn’t the case, and whose fault is that? The coach Favre casually calls "Chilly" is No. 1, for not having them prepared and focused. The players are No. 2 for simply going through the motions. The Panthers, who had nothing to play for except pride, seized the moment to tell the NFL world they aren’t as bad as their record.

So in the middle of such a scene, Childress' first move was to bench Favre's Pro Bowl left tackle Bryant McKinnie. Amazingly, McKinnie was willing to take a seat for poor performance because he was being run over consistently by Julius Peppers.

Childress' next move was to bench Favre, wanting to protect his quarterback's 40-year-old body while also knowing that mobile backup Tarvaris Jackson would have a better chance of escaping the constant Carolina pressure. Even with a lead, Chilly knew his team was really losing the fight. He simply wanted to save face.

But Favre didn’t come out of retirement to take a seat in a 7-6 game. He came back to play and compete. You can rip him all you want for being a flip-flopper on retirement, etc., but the guy plays to compete. Is he head-strong? You bet. But like any other player, he wants to prove that he’s the best. He wants to win, knowing there are only 16 dances on the card.

But the only way you bench Favre in a situation like that is by benching all your other important players like Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Sidney Rice and Kevin Williams. The Vikings need all their stars if they are going to reach the NFC Championship and a true shot at the Super Bowl.

Chilly’s defense will be that Favre is 40 and fragile, and that those players aren’t. But that isn’t how you run a team. Which goes back to who is really running this team?

I say Favre is right now. Every coach in American probably hates me for saying that, but those are the facts. I don’t know how Childress takes back control of the locker room while also saving face. But he’s getting what he deserves. He’s the one who drove to the airport to pick up Lord Favre this summer and he’s the one who collected many millions off of his quarterback’s exploits. The players can say whatever they want the day after, but the whole world knew that before Favre arrived the Minnesota locker room wasn’t wearing pro-Chilly buttons.

To be honest, Chilly should be working harder on figuring out how to find some running plays for Peterson that actually work. The great back has been stuffed now by Arizona and Carolina, two defenses that can’t be compared to the Steelers’ run defense. It seems there’s a blueprint on stopping the Minnesota offense right now, and Childress is responsible for the game plan and deciding what will work on game day, right?

Or does Favre do that, too?

AFC Wildness

OK, we know that the Colts are perfect and that the Chargers are sitting pretty.

New England holds the AFC's No. 3 seed right now because the Dolphins and Jets collapsed on Sunday. That was an awful loss by the Jets, who dominated the Falcons only to lose in the final minutes on a Matt Ryan fourth-down pass to Tony Gonzalez.

There are eight teams still technically alive for the remaining two wild-card berths, and you want to like the Ravens and Broncos — who are both 8-6 and in control — but how can you really count on either one of those clubs?

The Ravens play in Pittsburgh next Sunday and the way the Steelers rallied against the Packers, there apparently is still gas in the Steelers’ tank. Plus, they hate the Ravens. There’s no way of picking a winner here.

The Bengals could be free-falling after giving an extremely exhaustive effort in San Diego amidst the Chris Henry tragedy only to lose on a 52-yard field goal as time expired. One must assume, though, if they split their final two games they will make the playoffs because they are 6-0 in the AFC North and own head-to-head tiebreakers against both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

The Broncos are a scary proposition. They lost at home to JaMarcus Russell and Charlie Frye, maybe the worst quarterback combination in the league this season. That surely isn’t a confidence booster, plus they have to play Philadelphia this week and the Eagles can feel the Cowboys breathing down their necks. No way Denver travels to Philly and wins. No way!

The Jaguars have a very good 6-4 conference record, which is a positive when bracing for the tiebreakers. They also have some offensive juice, but they could lose both of their cold road games in New England and Cleveland. A split, though, may give them a chance. Should they sweep, the Jaguars are a shoo-in in my opinion.

The Titans are the team that nobody really wants to see in the playoffs. They have the explosive Chris Johnson and Vince Young, and the defense is hardly awful. They catch a break by hosting the Chargers on Christmas night and San Diego, although 17-0 in December under Philip Rivers, really doesn’t need to win. Then Tennessee closes out the season at Seattle. The Titans realistically could finish 9-7 after that ugly 0-6 start.

What’s Up With That?

  • Steelers coach Mike Tomlin dodged maybe the worst call ever by a good coach when Ben Roethlisberger tossed a winning touchdown pass on the game’s final play vs. Green Bay. Tomlin's shocking gamble to go for an onsides kick with a two-point lead and four minutes left was worse than Bill Belichick’s infamous fourth-and-two in Indy. Tomlin claims he doesn’t live in fear of being judged. But had he lost, Steeler Nation would have been questioning him until the 2010 season kicked off.
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  • The Cowboys can’t keep Nick Folk as their kicker. He’s missed seven of his last 11 and is a definite head case. Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips can’t entrust their season on his wildly shaky leg.
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  • The Buffalo Bills almost beat the Patriots at home. But their 28th false start by the offensive line cost them a touchdown. Until they get an offensive line, the Bills are doomed.
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  • Bears GM Jerry Angelo refutes a report that Coach Lovie Smith’s job is secure for next season. Either Angelo doesn’t care for that reporter or Smith really is in trouble. The Bears are this season’s biggest disappointment if you believed that Jay Cutler is a better quarterback than Kyle Orton. Angelo and Bears ownership did believe that, too.
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  • How does Houston’s Andre Johnson catch nine passes for 196 yards and fail to score?
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  • I don’t know what Josh Cribbs is really worth, but the Browns should give their best player – now with an NFL-record eight kickoff returns for touchdowns – a new contract ASAP.
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  • If Jim Mora wasn’t such a nice guy, wouldn’t we be screaming for his scalp? But nobody cares about the Seahawks, who were torched by the Bucs and rookie quarterback Josh Freeman on Sunday. Freeman now has eight touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.

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