When training camp started, I had a mental list of where I thought each team would finish in the NFC North division. I believed the Green Bay Packers would finish in first, followed by the Minnesota Vikings, the Chicago Bears and lastly, the Detroit Lions. But when news broke on Tuesday morning that Brett Favre planned to retire, the division picture changed dramatically.
I could not believe my ears when I heard that the Minnesota Star Tribune said Favre told teammates he planned to retire. Wasn’t he just saying that he feels more at home in Minnesota than he did during his time with the Packers? If Favre does not return — which I’m not convinced until the season begins without Favre around — the race for second place becomes much tighter.
Favre had a career best 2009 season with only seven interceptions thrown. His dominant postseason play gave the Vikings a real shot at bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Minneapolis until the New Orleans Saints shut them down in the NFC Championship game. Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels will have to fill big shoes this season if indeed Favre decides that 19 seasons are enough for him. I don’t believe that Jackson or Rosenfels are capable, at least not yet, of leading the Vikings to a Super Bowl let alone an NFC North title. And this is good news for the Bears.
Jay Cutler had a terrible 2009 season, and I’m not really sure what to blame it on either. I don’t know if he was adjusting to playing in a big market or if he wasn’t comfortable with the playbook or his teammates. Whatever the case may be, I believe that this season will be different. Culter has a new offensive coordinator who is challenging the QB to live up to his hype. He seems more comfortable in the new Mike Martz offensive scheme and now has throwing to guys like Devin Hester and Greg Olsen.
Without the looming shadow of Brett Favre in the Twin Cities, Cutler might feel some weight lifted off his shoulders and he may now be able to step up and be the kind of quarterback that he was promised to be. With the main man more comfortable in his role of the Bears’ leader and Favre gone in Minnesota, I think the Bears will have a much greater shot of taking second in the division.
Favre’s done; Childress says little [Minneapolis Star Tribune]