in 11 games this season. Why, he threw for 381 just this past Thursday against Detroit.
Maybe at age 38, his arm's tired.
Yeah, he scares you.
Somehow, someway, you've got to get after the guy from Kiln, Miss., and you had better not think the how and the way is a steady diet of blitzing.
"The only thing about blitzing him is he knows where it's coming from," Phillips said. "Now there are some situations you have to come after him just to make him throw it quick . . . but he's seen it all."
So in Phillips' defensive rolodex, blitzing means you also can get blitzed yourself with big-time completions.
Now we've reduced this to one of those mano-a-mano deals, where the Cowboys' defenders up front just have to beat the Packers' protectors. Not easy. The Packers, remember, have allowed Favre to be sacked just 14 times, and rank third in the NFL in sacks suffered per pass play. (The Cowboys, though, rank sixth in total sacks yielded.)
Step right up then, DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis. Ware is tied for fifth in the NFC and seventh in the NFL with nine sacks. Only Green Bay's Aaron Kampman has two more sacks than he has. Ellis has 8½ sacks, leaving him 8th in the NFC and 10th in the NFL. But only Kampman and Seattle's Patrick Kerney have at least 1½ more sacks than he has.
If ever the Cowboys need these guys to play like Pro Bowlers, this will be the night.
"You got to be aggressive and try to get to him," said Ellis, one of only two guys left on the team to have beaten Favre playing with the Cowboys (Flozell Adams the other, 27-13, 1999). "He moves around the pocket to buy extra time."
Understand what Ellis is saying, and that may be why Favre is so dangerous: He moves around in the pocket to buy extra time. Not to run, mind you, a la a Michael Vick, but to be able to better throw the ball downfield. That's dangerous.
And while many will tell you Favre has adapted to McCarthy's version of the West Coast offense, which seems to suggest a lot of dinking and dunking on two- and three-step drops, Phillips will tell you Favre has completed the most passes of at least 40 yards this year.
Check out these Green Bay longs: Jennings 82 yards, Jones 79, Lee 60, Driver 47, Robinson 43 and Martin 36. That's out there.
And they said he should have retired.
Here's also what complicates the defensive matter. The Packers don't run a traditional offense, and when I say that, that doesn't mean a lot of three-receiver sets, although that seems to be their base defense. Oh no, they like to run four- and five-receiver sets. In fact, the Cowboys guys watching film say Favre drove the Packers 80 yards for a touchdown against the Lions running all five-receiver sets.
That's five now, and we're not talking just going empty, flanking out wide the running back and tight end, too. Oh no, we're talking flanking out five wide receivers, and in most cases those being Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Ruvell Martin and now Koren Robinson. And don't forget tight end Donald Lee, who still averages 12 yards a catch and is second to Jennings' team-leading nine touchdown receptions with four.
So to better prepare for Favre's tendencies the Cowboys have practice squad quarterback Richard Bartel running the scout team offense, trying his best to mimic Favre's style. Got him running the Packers' pass plays, but also asking him to ad-lib, just move around in the pocket buying time so he can throw the ball downfield - and from different arm locations.
But here is the problem again: What defensive alignment do you play? You can't be messing around with linebackers trying to cover wide receivers, and maybe not even strong safeties. Not in man, anyway. And you can't put all corners in the game, otherwise they will unleash Grant on you. Your zones then must be tight.
Blitz? Well, what happens if the Packers pick it up? Somebody or somebodies will be running wide open.
Chances are the Cowboys will have to employ a lot of their sub-packages, be that their six-defensive back package with Kevin Burnett at linebacker or the five DB package with Burnett and Bradie James at inside linebacker, but only Ken