Brett Favre had reason for worry over the off-season, and not only because the Packers failed to bring in wide receiver Randy Moss to bolster the offense. What concerned Favre (right) was the coaching staff's relentless emphasis on avoiding the mistakes that had long been an accepted part of his game. In essence, second-year coach Mike McCarthy wanted Favre, who led the league with 47 interceptions over the past two years, to be more card shark than riverboat gambler. With a young team like the Packers, the margin for error is much smaller than when Green Bay was steamrolling the NFC in Favre's glory years. "I know it's not always how he's played," McCarthy said in training camp, "but he needs to take what the defense gives him this year. He needs to have his best statistical year."
Favre is off to a good start. After two games he has a 65% completion rate and only two interceptions. At one point on Sunday, when the visiting Packers picked apart the Giants 35--13 to raise their record to 2--0, Favre completed 14 straight passes, none of them longer than 19 yards. His three second-half touchdowns—including a perfect pump-fake touch pass to tight end Donald Lee in the corner of the end zone—went for a total of 15 yards.
Entering the season Favre was averaging 7.0 yards per pass attempt for his career; in two games his average is 6.2. Look for more of the safer, shorter passes when the blitz-happy Chargers come to Lambeau Field this Sunday. "Across the board, the pressure will be on," Favre said after the Giants game. "We can't afford mistakes this week."
The new Packers prefer the long drive to the quick strike. Combine that approach with a solid defense, and Green Bay has a shot at 10 wins. By playing it safer, Favre could be playing in January.
RICH KANE/US PRESSWIRE (FAVRE)