Favre spreads the love, and passes, around

BY foxsports • October 16, 2009

When it comes to running the Minnesota Vikings offense, Brett Favre is an equal opportunity slinger. When these Vikings break the huddle and a passing play is called, every receiver knows the ball could be coming his way, whether the 40-year-old quarterback is looking in his direction or not. "That's one thing I've had to learn about Favre," Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "First read, fourth read, fifth read, sometimes check down: He's going to find the open guy. "One thing that he does do: He'll be looking over here," Shiancoe continued, looking to his right before pointing back to his left, "and he'll throw the ball to you over here. You won't be expecting the ball, but I've learned to expect the ball regardless of where he's looking and what type of pressure he has." Favre's ability to quickly scan opposing defenses and scroll through the available receivers to make sure every possible option is in play is something new for the Vikings. In five games, he has completed at least 13 passes to five different receivers. At the same point last season, only two players had that many receptions with Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte running the show. Favre has thrown nine touchdowns to five different receivers. "He is quick enough in his progressions to get to that backside guy really quick," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "He can get it there on time and when it's supposed to be there. Whereas in the past, we've been going through one, two, and then getting it down underneath. Well, that guy in the backside that sometimes is taking a play off, so to speak, they're ready to get the ball." With Favre at the helm, every receiver is encouraged to run every route as if they were the primary target - with precision and maximum effort. "Nobody knows who it is going to," rookie Percy Harvin said. "Even when you're not supposed to get it, you still have to watch for him because he can see some things and thread it in there even when it's not supposed to (go that way)." This is nothing new for Favre, who has made a career out of spreading the ball around, be it for 16 seasons in Green Bay or his last one with the New York Jets. "I have no favorites," Favre said. "Now do I throw over here and this guy is wide open? Absolutely. It happens all the time." Heck, Favre even completed a pass to himself this season. It happened last week against the Rams, when the ball was batted in the air and Favre had to leap up and catch it to prevent it from being intercepted. "I never know where it's going to go," receiver Sidney Rice said. "It's a mystery. You've got to be ready and focused at all times." Rice and Harvin are tied for the team lead with 233 yards receiving, with Bernard Berrian close behind. Part of the equal distribution is the absence of a Pro Bowl player at this position, as Randy Moss was here in the years before Brad Childress took over in 2006. Those Vikings ran a different offense and were more likely to feature a particular receiver. The West Coast system Childress employs uses short passes as runs, in effect, and relies on a diversity of skill position players to keep the ball moving. "He's playing within the system. It's not like a buddy-ball deal, where 'I like Donald Driver, so I'm going to throw it to him every time,"' Childress said, referring to one of Favre's top targets with the Green Bay Packers. "He's done a good job of being an equal opportunity thrower," Childress added. "If you're somewhere that you're supposed to be and he knows you're supposed to be there, he can get it to you." ---