Redskins' focus is set on Favre

At 33, Green Bay's QB still one of NFL's most potent offensive threats

Pro Football

October 18, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - No. 4 is the No. 1 priority for the Washington Redskins' defense.

After tangling with Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb, San Francisco's Jeff Garcia and New Orleans' Aaron Brooks, the Redskins' defense will face its greatest challenge - Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers.

Favre's legacy and exploits aren't far from the minds of several Washington players, who will visit the Packers for a 4:15 p.m. game at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

"Greatest quarterback in the game right now," said cornerback Fred Smoot, who - like Favre - is a native of Mississippi. "Still is, still is. And has been for a long time."

Long is certainly an apt adjective for Favre, who has been a fixture with the Packers since he became the team's starting quarterback in the fourth game of the 1992 season - his second in the NFL.

Favre, 33, owns the NFL record for consecutive starts by a quarterback with 163 and set another mark with 10 straight 3,000-yard seasons.

A three-time Most Valuable Player, Favre leads a Green Bay offense that averages 389.8 yards a game (fifth in the NFL). He has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,617 yards and 14 touchdowns, with just three interceptions.

Players from last season's Redskins squad are very familiar with Favre. In a 37-0 thrashing before a Monday Night Football audience, Favre threw for 236 yards on 20-for-31 passing with three touchdowns and one interception.

"We allowed them to jump on us early," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "We had some injuries, and they were able to roll over us. We can't allow that. We've got to get started early and fast and keep the pressure on them all day."

"He's on fire right now," defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. "He's able to kind of go through his progression. The first guy's covered, the second guy might be covered, and then he throws to the third guy for a 70-yard touchdown pass. He's got the mentality that he can get the ball there, and he's making the play and doing it."

Much of that confidence comes from a powerful right arm that is as mighty today as it was when Favre was a rocket-throwing 24-year-old. And yet, even he knows that his mechanics aren't what future quarterbacks should emulate.

"Usually, every throw is all arm going backwards [with] both feet off the ground," Favre said in a conference call with Washington media. "To throw the way I throw, obviously you've got to have two things. You've got to have arm strength, and you've got to have accuracy. Fortunately, I have both, and I guess that's why I'm not afraid to make any throw or make any decision because I feel like I'm able to do it."

That places the burden on the Redskins' much-beleaguered secondary, which surrendered six passes of at least 15 yards and two touchdowns on third-and-long situations in a 43-27 loss to New Orleans last Sunday.

Favre may not be as mobile as Brooks, but he still is blessed with that powerful right arm.

"He'll try to squeeze it there on you," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "If you stick your hand out there, he might break it. You've got to stay with your man and don't ever think that he can't make that throw."

Next for Redskins

Opponent: Green Bay Packers

Site: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.

When: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 45, 5/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM)

Line: Packers by 7 1/2

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