This weekend I watched the 2010 NFC Championship between the Saints and Vikings so I could study Drew Brees for my first “Futures” column at Football Outsiders, but I couldn’t skip the Vikings possessions. Not because of Adrian Peterson or Percy Harvin, whose physical skills I marvel with each viewing. The truth is, I’m an unabashed fan of Brett Favre’s game.
I don’t care about the will-he-or-won’t-he drama at the end of his career or the possibility that he thought a cell phone portrait of his penis was a good way to get some Strange. In fact, I don’t care that he was looking for Strange. I can compartmentalize my appreciation of Favre to his skill as an NFL quarterback. If you can’t, skip this post.
Otherwise, Favre is a fun exception to the rule when it comes to the mechanics of delivering the football and playing the game at the highest level.
Highlights are Rated “CG” – If you’re Tim Tebow, Coaching Guidance is Suggested
Sometimes Favre’s delivery was as clean as a winding dirt road on a rainy day in the backwoods of Mississippi. Here’s a 1st and 10 pass from a 3×2-receiver, empty shotgun set versus what appears to be a double A-gap blitz with 13:00 in the first quarter.
This play will need a quick, accurate pass. According to most scouts and students of the game, sound technique helps a quarterback deliver the ball efficiently. Unless you’re Brett Favre. Even with a low snap and LB Jonathan Vilma deciding at the last moment to hang at the line of scrimmage, Favre manages to fire the ball around three defenders hitting Berrian for a nine-yard gain. The end result is a fine play, but from the standpoint of throwing technique there’s a lot that isn’t textbook.
After the snap, Favre’s feet are in a position where he might as well be in line at the local hardware store waiting for the cashier to ring up a box of roofing nails.
The front foot isn’t far enough ahead for the QB to generate the kind of torque that comes from good weight transfer in the hips. This throw is all arm and shoulder. If you think that this is bad technique get a load of the release below.
Favre begins his release by dropping the ball nearly to his back thigh and beginning a looping, cross country trip to his back shoulder before ending with a side-arm delivery that would make most technophiles cringe.
There’s rhyme and reason to the delivery. Favre’s sidearm throw is placed just inside of the LB who drops from his initial blitz approach to cover the seam.
Here’s a touchdown pass to Sidney Rice in the first quarter from an 11-personnel shotgun set. Favre begins his delivery with the bottom point of the ball inches from his knee before bringing it to shoulder level.
Fortunately, the ball delivery isn’t elongated in terms of where it begins once it reaches shoulder level. Here’s another Tebow-like delivery versus a 3rd and 9 safety blitz with 1:44 in the half from a 3×1 receiver, 10 personnel shotgun set.
Favre has to drop and deliver the ball in the face of Darren Sharper coming untouched and completes a 13-yard out to his WR Berrian in tight coverage at the right sideline for the first down. Good anticipation and power under duress, but look where Favre begins his delivery of the ball.
The ball is once again at his thigh with the bottom point nearly at his knee. In fact, he never gets his torso over his hips to generate any weight transfer. He has to power this throw with is arm and he still manages to get the ball to his receiver on time.
I can see how Favre’s elongated motion helped him generate velocity without stepping through the throw and into defensive contact. However, there are moments where Favre throws the ball with this kind of elongated motion and it isn’t necessary.
Here is a clean-pocket throw on 2nd and 9 with 11:41 in the third quarter where he hits his TE Shiancoe on a deep cross in the middle of the field and he yet again brings the ball down to his knee.
It would have been fun to see how this generation of media evaluators, former scouts, and other Internet writers would judge Favre. I suspect he would be among the more polarizing prospects of this era.