Favre Enjoying Successes, Large And Small


Brett Favre is acutely aware that if he plays well, the Packers have a good chance to win. If he doesn't, they don't.

To some extent, that's life in the NFL for any quarterback. The position is simply too important to make it easy to overcome poor performances under center.

But Favre realizes that pressure is more heavily applied to him this year than perhaps any other year in his career, as he leads an offense that has started either three or four rookies in every game.

What that pressure has done is make gameday more stressful and tension-filled for the 16-year veteran quarterback, which in turn seems to make him all the more excited when things go well, as shown in his jubilant touchdown celebrations.

"I'm not a big statistics guy, but I know this: If I'm dumping a pass off to Donald and he's taking it 80 yards for a touchdown, or I don't turn the ball over, we have a pretty good chance of winning," Favre said during his Wednesday news conference.

"So every time I'm involved in a play that's positive, it's exciting, because I know that it's going to either lead to us winning or give us a shot."

Donald Driver's 82-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown last week in the 23-17 victory at Minnesota was the play of the game and could take on even greater significance depending on how the rest of the season plays out.

Favre celebrated by running all the way down the field and throwing Driver over his shoulder in a fireman's carry, much like he did when Driver made a spectacular diving catch between two defenders for a critical touchdown at Miami. He also did his first-ever Lambeau Leap when he rushed for a touchdown against Arizona.

It's certainly fun to watch Favre having fun, but it's also not hard to understand the release of emotions when something goes well because so much is riding on his performance.

It's no coincidence that when Favre has posted a quarterback rating of 90 or above, the Packers are 4-0. When the rating is below 90, they're 0-5. Favre even commented that he felt the team played about as well at Minnesota as it did at Buffalo the week before, but the difference was clearly the four turnovers by the offense.

Favre has thrown just seven interceptions this season, and he has thrown none in the four victories. The only game he hasn't thrown an interception and the Packers still lost was against St. Louis, when Favre had the ball knocked from his hand in the waning moments with the Packers in position for a potential game-tying or game-winning score.

To his credit, Favre has kept the interceptions down by taking more checkdowns when his primary reads aren't open, and by getting out of the pocket and throwing the ball away more often than forcing throws into tight coverage. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week that throwaways are graded as a positive when the coaching staff reviews film.

As Favre has said before, it helps that the Packers are in every game and not playing from way behind, but the approach also reflects Favre's understanding that any mistake by him is magnified because he isn't surrounded by a veteran team capable of making up for a quarterback's miscues.

"I know to me a 3-yard completion or throwing the ball away, which years ago was not a big deal, is such a big deal now, and I have to be excited about every good play I make moreso than maybe years past," Favre said. "I don't take for granted every play. There's maybe 70 plays in a game, and I have to play well in 68 of them. So I'm excited every time one of our guys catch it and we continue to hold the ball.

"The play to Donald the other day does not come around too often for us. That's probably why I showed more excitement on that play than others."

{sportsad300}Another reason for the visible excitement is that Favre said he's feeling more relaxed on a day-to-day basis. Oddly enough, the elevated pressure meter on Sundays has actually lowered the stress level for Favre during the week. Preparing for that heavy burden on gameday keeps him intently focused on his own job, and he doesn't concern himself with others' responsibilities.

"Maybe in years past I tried to make sure I was doing my job as well as everyone else's, and as a quarterback, especially a guy who's played for a while, I think it's only natural to want to make sure everything is right," Favre said. "And not that I don't want that to happen this year, but there's only so much you can control, and I'm kind of to the point where ... control what you can do, and that's it.

"I think that's probably the biggest reason it shows in my expressions. It's coming out more. People say, 'Now he's having fun,' but I'm kind of allowing myself to do that."

While Favre didn't address his future beyond this season, he did comment that the willingness to take on the leadership responsibility and pressure to perform for his teammates was needed for him to return this season.

He's not surprised at all by the burden he carries, but he had to accept it in order to continue playing.

"I'd like to think every time I step on the field I give us a better advantage when it comes to winning, and when that doesn't happen, especially when I'm as much to blame for the loss as anyone, that's disappointing," he said. "But that is football, and I am willing to deal with that, because I know there is next week and I do see progress, not only from my play but I think from everyone else."

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