Vikes won't cater to Favre's streak, plus 10 things to watch for Sunday
Talked to Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier about his quarterback situation last night and came away unsure about whether Brett Favre will play his 298th straight regular-season game (322nd including playoffs) Sunday against the Giants in Minneapolis.
But here's what the Twitterverse, the webworld and the talk-show folks will be most interested in. I know, because I've been bombarded all week by the same question: Would the Vikings play Favre one snap, or one series, just to keep his consecutive-game streak alive? Frazier's unequivocal answer:
"No,'' he said from his Vikings office. "I wouldn't do that. We wouldn't do that. And I can tell you Brett wouldn't want it that way. That isn't what Brett's about. Whoever's writing that or saying that ... it's just not the way we do things. I can tell you this: If we decide to play Brett, it's with the mindset that he'll play the game, and play well.''
Favre did not practice Wednesday because of a severe bruise to the joint between his shoulder bone and neck, and it kept him out again Thursday. He did, however,
Said Frazier: "This injury is different than the other ones he's had. The pain is different. I don't know if he can play. We'll have to see how he does [Friday] and make a determination.''
So ... stay tuned. Whether you're sick to death of Favre or not, this is a huge game for the Giants in the NFC East pennant race, so it does matter.
Since Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season, the Buffalo Bills have tried nearly every way possible to find his successor. They gave journeymen backups (Todd Collins, Alex Van Pelt, Kelly Holcomb) shots. They gave a Canadian League hero and breakfast-cereal entrepreneur (Doug Flutie) a try. They traded a first-round pick to acquire a promising backup (Rob Johnson). They traded a first-round pick to acquire a proven star (Drew Bledsoe). They used a pick in the first round (J.P. Losman) and third round (Trent Edwards) on college hotshots.
What would you call Harvard product Ryan Fitzpatrick? Journeyman, insurance policy, good Scrabble partner? I'd call him this: A man with a real chance to keep the job longer than any of his post-Kelly predecessors.
Nothing's certain, and after a conversation with Bills coach Chan Gailey, I can't tell you with certainty that the Bills won't use one of their top picks on a quarterback if they have a chance to get, say, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. (It's highly likely Luck will be the first overall pick if he enters the draft, and the way the Bills are playing, I doubt they'll end up with the first pick overall anyway.)
Gailey said of Fitzpatrick: "There's no question he's got a chance [to be the long-term quarterback]. Don't ask me to put a percentage on it,'' and, "You've got to be an idiot to have watched him this season and say he can't play. We've got plenty of areas we need to improve to be a strong team, and that is not one of them.''
Sounds very much like Fitzpatrick, with a strong final four games (Cleveland, at Miami, New England, at Jets) could stake a claim to the job in 2011 and beyond -- barring the Bills having a shot at Luck.
Said Gailey: "The two greatest attributes for a quarterback, in my opinion, are decision-making and accuracy. He's got them both. He's got great decision-making, pre-snap and post-snap. When he has to look over a defense and make important decisions before the ball is snapped, he does that as well as anyone. Then he knows when to get rid of the ball, when to look for the hot receiver.''
I asked Gailey if Fitzpatrick had enough arm, particularly in a place that's an occasional wind tunnel like Orchard Park. "Yes,'' Gailey said. "There've been a lot of guys over the years who've won with worse arms.''
One last good Gaileyism on Fitzpatrick. I asked him if Fitzpatrick was much of a Harvard guy on the field, and this was his money quote:
"His demeanor in meetings and practice is Harvard. His play on Sunday is Ohio State.''
Last night, in Tennessee's 30-28 loss to Indianapolis, in maybe 15 snaps (Moss didn't play for the first 20 minutes of the game), Moss had zero balls thrown to him. Interesting. Kerry Collins threw 39. Zero to Moss. Eight combined to Jared Cook, Craig Stevens and Ahmard Hall. Zero to Moss.
Afterward, Jeff Fisher said it was because Kenny Britt had returned from injury, and because he and Moss play the same position and Britt is the unquestioned starter, that's going to have a major effect on Moss' involvement. But zero throws in 39 snaps? Moss isn't good enough, or enough of a threat to a defense playing backup safeties, to throw a couple of 40-yard jump-balls in an offense that had been struggling mightily?
This is what the Titans bought for the $3.2-million it cost to bring Moss on for the last half of the season: five catches and zero touchdowns in five games.
He played the first five games of the season without throwing an interception. He's thrown at least one interception in every game since. Seven games, 11 interceptions. He got called to the principal's office this week to have a little chat with Rex Ryan, and I can bet you the message was jovial but pointed.
Tarvaris Jackson's quarterback line against the Giants:
Not saying he'll start. Don't know if he will. But I can't see Favre making it very long in the game.
Mincey, a third-year player from Florida, and Lane, a fifth-round rookie from the football power of Murray (Ky.) State, were backups at the beginning of the year, but morphed into starting roles after Derrick Harvey was benched in October and Aaron Kampman was lost for the season a month ago with his second ACL tear in a year. Over the past five games, Jacksonville, with Mincey and Lane outside and young forces Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu inside, has held foes to 17.8 points per game. Just another sign that GM Gene Smith is going to be on my short list for executive of the year after the season; three of those four players (including Mincey, a former Jag who last played for them in 2008 before being waived injured in 2009) were Smith pickups this calendar year. They'll be instrumental in pressuring Jason Campbell and trying to stop Darren McFadden Sunday to try to keep their AFC South lead.