Favre Credits Receivers For Production

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You'd think after three MVP awards, two Super Bowls, 165 consecutive games played, 40,244 yards passing and 301 touchdowns, Brett Favre would have run out of ways to amaze.

But he hasn't. After more than a decade leading the Green Bay Packers, Favre is off to another head-turning start.

His 1,617 yards passing this season rank fourth in the NFL behind only Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe (2,016), New England's Tom Brady (1,749) and Oakland's Rich Gannon (1,687).

His 14 touchdown passes tie him for second with Bledsoe and Brady, trailing only Kansas City's Trent Green, who has 15.

His 102.5 passer rating is the best in the NFL (more than 35 attempts).

But it's not Favre's big numbers that are raising eyebrows, it's a small one.

Through six games, Favre has thrown a mere three interceptions. A number made all the more striking considering that he tossed six picks in the Packers' season-ending playoff loss to St. Louis last year.

"Subconsciously, I don't know if he's made a correction, but he's very cognizant of danger on the football field," Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said of Favre, whose fearless playing style has at times played into picks. "I give him full credit for curtailing the interceptions. (To have three interceptions) for the amount of times he's thrown the football, that's superb."

Favre takes little, if any, of the credit. At least no more than usual. He insists he's the same quarterback he's always been, making the same decisions that he's always made.

The difference, he suggests, is his supporting cast, where a new-look receiving corps of Donald Driver, Terry Glenn, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker has combined with the previously established targets of tight end Bubba Franks and running back Ahman Green to give Favre some of his best weapons in years.

Take the Monday night game against the Chicago Bears, for example. Favre completed 22 of 33 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns -- good enough to win not only the game, but NFC Player Of The Week honors as well.

While praise has to go to Favre for making the throws, Favre commends his receivers for making them available.

That 85-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver? That was supposed to be a more conservative pass to tight end Tyrone Davis. It was only when Davis was tripped up at the line of scrimmage that Favre looked to Franks. And only then did he spot No. 80.

"I happen to see Donald flash, obviously behind everyone and moving pretty quickly," Favre remembered Wednesday. "It's a throw I can make. It's not a throw we throw often, or ever, including practice.

"But the credit on that play has to go to Donald . . . because Donald would never get that ball had he not been running full-speed. And no one would have thought twice about it because he's not even really in the route."

Similarly, no one also would have been surprised if Glenn had failed to come up with a 26-yard pass later in the game, a ball thrown slightly off target that Glenn managed to snare just seconds before it hit the turf at the 6-yard-line.

"I don't know if any of our guys before could have made that catch," Favre said. "You're looking at two plays right there that easily could have gone the other way. So two incompletions and you take away over 100 yards of passing right there."

Beyond all the current success, Favre sees things getting better over time. For younger players like Walker and Ferguson, that means learning from Favre. For experienced new faces like Glenn, it might be the other way around.

Whereas bump-and-run coverage created headaches for some former Packers receivers, Glenn's ability to fight off the jam at the line of scrimmage has given Favre an option that hasn't been there in recent years.

"The one thing he can do better than anyone I've ever played with is beat bump-and-run," Favre said of Glenn. "There have been times where I've thrown it to him, there have been other times where I've gotten off (him) thinking that he would be covered, and you look at the film and they still hadn't covered him.

"What that does is allows you to stay with a guy, whereas in the past we had guys bump-and-run . . . and he's covered and you force the throw. A perfect example is the opening play against Atlanta last year. I throw a slant to Billy (Schroeder) against bump-and-run. He gets jammed, he gives up, and I think the safety or corner ends up catching the ball.

"With Terry, not to say he won't ever get jammed against bump-and-run, but it's allowed me a little more freedom in decision making."

That freedom has not only resulted in big numbers for Favre this season, but for the team, which is 5-1 going into Sunday's showdown with the Washington Redskins.

After 12 years, it would be so easy to assume that we've seen the best of Brett Favre already. But if his receivers continue to develop as the quarterback predicts, one of the NFL's all-time greatest gunslingers might only see the bull's-eye grow larger.

The potential of that, no doubt, would be amazing.

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