Green Makes Favre More Effective
Thursday, September 27, 2001
Associated Press

Story Filed: Thursday, September 27, 2001 6:48 PM EDT

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre has regained his MVP touch and restored the swagger to the Green Bay Packers' offense.

The reasons are many.

``Balance,'' explained Favre, who's glad to have running back Ahman Green to take pressure off him.

``Health,'' offered his coach, Mike Sherman, relieved that his quarterback's elbow tendinitis and ballooned thumb are old news.

``Maturity,'' suggested offensive coordinator Tom Rossley, who's thrilled Favre has traded in his wild ways much as John Elway did late in his career when Terrell Davis arrived in Denver.

Favre has five touchdown passes already, but he's not thinking about throwing a ton of TDs like he used to.

``I feel I'm a better quarterback, but that doesn't mean I'm going to throw 35 touchdowns this year,'' Favre said. ``I feel like I'm handling the game much better, I'm managing the game better.''

Favre acknowledges he doesn't have to be The Man all the time.

``You don't have to throw four touchdowns a game to be a great quarterback or to be a great offensive football team,'' he said. ``I think I'm proving that right now.''

Favre's three-year MVP run from 1995-97 included 112 touchdown passes and 42 interceptions. Feeling he had to win games by himself the last three seasons, Favre had 62 interceptions to go with 73 TDs. This season, he has five TDs and one pickoff.

Even when Antonio Freeman gets open downfield, Favre is dumping the ball off for sure shots and short gains that demoralize defenses just the same.

``He's older and wiser,'' Rossley said. ``I think there's games where he'll take more of those shots. But if you've got the game in hand, he's staying away from some of those high-risk throws.''

And how much of that has to do with Green?

``Well, Brett has confidence that we can drive the ball or we can take it with the big play,'' Rossley said. ``He knows he doesn't have to do it all by himself. He's got running backs and some tight ends and some receivers. So, he's just playing real smart, making some good decisions.''

While Favre lacks a playmaking receiver, he does have a solid group of wideouts led by Freeman and his tight end tandem of Bubba Franks (two TD catches) and rookie David Martin has been impressive.

Also, Green is getting better catching passes out of the backfield.

``We've got a pretty good group that he has confidence in and knows he doesn't have to force balls in to one or two guys,'' Rossley said.

But the primary reason for Favre's rebound, Rossley said, is the emergence of Green, whose hard-driving style and explosive capabilities are forcing opponents to honor Green Bay's running game for the first time in years.

That, in turn, is making Favre as menacing as he was during the Super Bowl seasons.

Green has an NFL-best 273 yards rushing and two TDs as the Packers have outscored their opponents 65-6. And when he needs a breather, Rossley has Super Bowl veteran Dorsey Levens and rising star Rondell Mealey at the ready.

``It's a 1-2-3 punch, it's pretty effective,'' Favre said. ``I don't know how many times I've thrown in two games, but it's more than we needed to. That's a luxury. Tom would tell you it's much easier to call a game when you can pick and choose the times you want to throw and what passes you want to throw, not when you have to throw.''

There's only been a couple of obvious passing downs in the Packers' blowouts of Detroit and Washington.

Back in Favre's younger days, Mike Holmgren built the offense around Favre's arm.

``That was a good philosophy because it worked,'' Favre said. ``But we're much better as a team doing it this way and I realize that. I just know it's much easier on a quarterback to be in reasonable down and distance.''

Green credited Favre with his own emergence. He said Favre never gets on him for dropping passes or running a wrong route but encourages him constantly.

``I think it's a great benefit,'' Green said, ``to have a guy like that on the football field with you.''

Healthy, happy, older and wiser.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.

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