- Ed Werder, ESPN NFL Insider
- 0 Shares
MINNEAPOLIS -- The tension between Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and coach Brad Childress is the result of disagreement over how much influence each should expect to have in running the offense during games, according to multiple team sources.
Childress has a reputation for limiting the number of audibles he allows his quarterbacks to call at the line of scrimmage. Favre apparently believes his knowledge of the offensive system and 19 years of NFL experience qualify him to make changes based on his extensive film study of opponents.
Although the two have discussed their recent disagreement -- which became public when Favre resisted Childress' attempts to pull him from Sunday night's loss in Carolina -- it is unclear whether they have resolved the fundamental issue: Are Childress and his coaching staff going to control the game from the sideline, or will Favre be permitted the autonomy he feels is necessary to control it at the line of scrimmage?
At news conferences on Wednesday, Childress and Favre said they had spoken and resolved to move forward. Childress said they had a "good talk" on Monday and Wednesday about their disagreement
"He and I talked, as we have all year," Favre said, adding that given the team's recent slump, "the frustration is gonna show."
"It's gotten blown way out of proportion," he said.
With the NFC North-leading Vikings (11-3) mired in an offensive slump that has seen them lose two of their last three games, Favre has indicated to teammates he is moving forward and is focused on Monday night's game against the Chicago Bears, the Vikings' first cold-weather game of the season.
What happened in Carolina and in several other games this season in which Childress considered removing Favre for too often changing running plays into pass attempts has nothing to do with Childress attempting to protect his 40-year-old quarterback from punishment or wanting to replace Favre with a quarterback who offers a different style, sources said.
According to sources, Favre dislikes that Childress seldom discusses the game plan with him during the week, and does not encourage the quarterback to offer suggestions as to which plays he feels most comfortable calling in certain situations. When Favre changes the play at the line of scrimmage -- using his film study and experience -- Childress bristles, even when the audible Favre calls works perfectly.
Wednesday, Favre addressed that report, saying he has not demanded more freedom to call his own shots.
"I think there are times I see things that maybe I feel like we could get to or a change that maybe at the line of scrimmage I could get to. As I've told [offensive coordinator] Darrell [Bevell] and I've told [Childress] and anyone who has ever played the game -- we all think we know it all at some point. I know that's not the case," Favre said.
"I know our offense starts with Adrian Peterson and that's where it ends and we have to get that back on track," he said. "However, we do that we have to get it back on track and we're working towards it. I'm not going up there and saying, 'Hey, you have to give me more freedom,' because we've been good this year. We've sputtered the last couple of weeks but it can be fixed. I don't think anything major has to happen other than we have to play better."
Favre's experience in the offense -- which, before he signed, he said he knew better than the coaches -- and his leadership were among the qualities he thought the Vikings valued most in pursuing him. Teammates and coaches have lauded the endless hours Favre dedicates to studying tape of opponents, one coach saying Favre knows the names of the janitors at the team complex because he keeps such late hours.
Teammates have apparently supported Favre's refusal to leave the field against Carolina when he had what the quarterback later terms as a "heated discussion" with Childress.
LeRoy Butler, Favre's former teammate in Green Bay, said he was not surprised by the incident, explaining that he believes "Everybody in Minnesota knows that Brett Favre is running that organization," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Butler, who earlier this season was critical of his former Packers teammate for signing with the archrival Vikings, said Favre should not have questioned Childress when he was asked to come out of the game at Carolina, according to the report.
"So you knew Brett was a diva, you knew Brett wanted it his own way, you knew this all along. It was just a matter of time before it happened," Butler said, according to the report. "If I'm Percy Harvin, and I have a question on a route or a play, I'm going right to Brett Favre. If I'm Adrian Peterson and I'm not getting the carries I want, I don't go to Childress or Bevell, I go to Brett Favre. He's running the team. All this falls on Brett."
But despite his frustration with Childress, Favre appears determined not to let his problems with Childress interfere with his efforts to fulfill the goal that he says prompted him to sign with the Vikings -- winning the Super Bowl.
Vikings players elected Favre one of the team's captains after his speech to them just before the season opener in which he assured he was not returning to bolster his stats, make money or contend for MVP awards, and he specifically mentioned his willingness to play a secondary role to running back Adrian Peterson in the offense.
Ed Werder is an NFL reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.