Get Er Done: QB Mechanics by Brett Favre

If scouts, analysts, and media ascribe the Emily Post finishing school of QB mechanics, Brett Favre belongs to the Larry the Cable Guy technical college of Get Er Done. Photo by Tiger Girl.

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.

Farve signals to Bernard Berrian at the bottom of the formation to run the slant against this double A-gap blitz by the Vikings linebackers.

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 Emily Post school of scouting would frown on this footwork, but sometimes you just have to go with Larry “The Cable Guy” and “Get er Done!”

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.

The drawing is where most quarterbacks should have the ball to begin a release.

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.

Favre delivers the ball with a three-quarter motion, but the elbow is still above the shoulder, which allows the QB to generate good velocity.

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.

The best know when to follow the rules and when to the break the rules. This situation required breaking the rules.
Nine-yard completion to Bernard Berrian.

Hitting Bottom

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.

You can’t be a successful NFL QB delivering the ball with a motion that brings the ball to knee level, right? Favre at age 40, in the NFC Championship.

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.

The Saints blitz seven and drop four with safety Darren Sharper coming free up the middle.

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.

With a safety bearing down, it still doesn’t change Favre from reaching down to his knees to deliver 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.

Favre might as well be on a pitcher’s mound with this delivery where his back foot is on the rubber and his front foot in the air.
As Favre comes over the top with his release, his torso isn’t even over his hips.
No real hip torque here, but enough power to hit the sideline route down field.

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.

Clean pocket, but Favre still has a low starting point with his delivery.

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.

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