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With Games Close And Favre Comfortable, Interceptions Are Down


With five interceptions through seven games, including none in his last three contests, quarterback Brett Favre is on pace to throw barely more than 10 interceptions this season.

That's a far cry from the 29 he threw a year ago, and while the veteran quarterback believes several factors have contributed to cutting that down in 2006, the overriding one is that the Packers have been competitive in most of their games and not desperately playing from behind.

"We've been in all of our games except the second half of Philly and Chicago, and that's as big a factor as any," Favre said during his bi-weekly Wednesday news conference.

"When you fall behind to a certain point, you know you have to take some chances, and it's a little bit tougher to play within the system, at least for me it is. When we're in the game, leading, or with each play there's a chance we can win this game, I feel like I play the game differently. I don't want to say I play the game cautious, but maybe a little reluctant to take certain chances."

Favre's riskier throws appear to have come when the offense was in dire need of making something happen to change the course of the game.

Four of his five interceptions came in the Chicago and Philadelphia games. The two against the Bears occurred in the fourth quarter with the Packers trailing 26-0. The two against the Eagles came in the second half with the Packers behind 17-9 and 24-9, respectively, after leading 9-7 at the half.

But the game situation isn't the only reason for the lower number of interceptions. Keeping Favre comfortable in the pocket also has played a role, and the Packers have done that a couple of different ways.

For one, they've kept running backs and tight ends in to help pass protect more often this season, and as a result Favre has been sacked just nine times.

"I feel like I'm at my best when I have plenty of time to step up and eventually let a guy get open," Favre said.

The drawback to that approach has been having less receivers out running patterns, and that's why Favre believes his completion percentage is lower than it normally is. Favre is completing 57.4 percent of his passes thus far, which is just one-tenth of a percentage point higher than his career-low.

But last Sunday, when the backs and tight ends were sent out on routes more often, Favre's completion percentage rose to 68 percent (17 of 25), his highest over the last four games.

In addition, Favre appears more comfortable with a moving pocket, running bootlegs (or what he refers to as "keep" or "movement" passes), which is taking a page from his younger days, when a moving pocket was almost the norm.

"We've gone back to concepts that he has a lot of history in, he has a lot of reps in, he's seen it over and over again," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "In my experience with quarterback play, give them something they've seen over and over again, and they'll get the ball to the right guy."

That's an indication Favre and McCarthy are very much on the same page when it comes to running the offense, a development McCarthy attributes to their chance to work together in 1999, when he was Favre's position coach here.

McCarthy said he learned from Marty Schottenheimer, who was the head coach at Kansas City during McCarthy's first six years as an NFL assistant, that "in times of crisis, think of players, not plays." What he meant by that is players who are familiar with what they're asked to execute have a better chance of being successful than if they're running someone else's favorite play on paper.

"It's things I feel comfortable doing," Favre said. "That's as important as anything, is to run an offense ... that is comfortable from a quarterback's standpoint."

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