Does Getting Favre Make the Jets Contenders Now?
Thursday, August 07, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
So, our long national nightmare is over. Brett Favre has been traded by the Packers to the Jets. The terms of the deal are interesting - the draft pick that the Packers will receive next year will depend on how Favre performs. If he takes less than 50% of the snaps this season, the Packers get a 4th round pick. If he plays 70% and the Jets make the playoffs, the Packers get a 2nd round pick. If they somehow miraculously win the Super Bowl, the Packers walk away with a sweet ass 1st round pick (which of course would be the 32nd pick overall).

ESPN has several articles up anointing the Jets as instant playoff contenders. I'm a bit more skeptical about that. Let's break this down and see if that holds up.

First, let's consider how the playoff system works. There are four divisions, so the four divisional winners plus two wildcard teams will go to the AFC playoffs. The Jets play in the AFC East division. Let's be honest here, the Patriots are going to win that division again, hands down. So, the Jets won't make the playoffs by winning the division.

So, that leaves the Jets with attempting to win one of the two wildcard spots, rewarded to the non-divisional winners with the best record. The likely contender for one of those spots has to be the Jacksonville Jags, who went 11-5 last year. Even if the Jags succeed in winning their division, you'd have to think that the Colts would then be one of the wild card teams.

Now, two other AFC teams, the Titans and Browns, last year contended for the other wild card spot, both of them going 10-6 (the Titans winning via tie-breaker). So, let's go ahead and assume that you'd need at least a 10-6 record to make the playoffs in the AFC this season as well.

While nothing is certain in the upcoming season (who knew the previously 13-3 Ravens would plummet to such lows in a single year?), I'm going to assume that ESPN's power rankings are fairly accurate. So, how does Favre change the picture?

I think that while Favre will help them, he's still got to deal with learning a new offense. The Jet have a much better line than last year, plus he will have two talented receivers (Cotchery and Coles) to throw to, so that helps make the case that he'll perform well. However, before we get too excited and declare the Jets a Top 10 offense, let's remember that Thomas Jones averaged a poor 3.6 years a carry last year. Those bad years Favre had, his #1 complaint was a lack of a serious running game. Let's be generous and bump the Jets up 3 spots in the power rankings, on the assumption that Favre will make them better, but not super.

Let's look at the 2008 schedule for the Jets and see if 10-6 is a feasible goal to shoot for. They can't lose more than 6, so I'll focus on that number. There are some games on the schedule where you can safely say the Jets will probably lose (yes, yes, "any given Sunday" and all, but let's be honest here). They won't beat the Patriots either time, so that's 2. They won't beat the Chargers, so that's 3. Seattle is tough at home, so that's 4.

Now, here are the games where the other team is probably better, and the Jets will have to steal a victory: Arizona, Tennessee, Buffalo (twice). That's 4 games, of which they'll have to split the difference and win at least 2. This is also assuming they win all the games they're supposed to: Miami (twice), Kansas City, Denver, Cincinnati, San Fran, and so forth.

So, here's the X factors:
  • Favre must play like 2007 Brett, not 05-06 Brett. The man is 38, he's exhausted from this whole ordeal, and he doesn't know the offense. He has just 3 weeks to figure it out. His teammates will need to adjust to his style as well.
  • The Jets defense has to be pretty good. Brett may improve the offense, but you let a team like Cincy burn you (and believe me, that high octane offense can put massive numbers up), and you're in trouble
  • The line needs to really deliver this season, both in protecting Brett and opening holes for Jones
  • Thomas Jones needs to show that it was his line (and not his own lack of talent) that has been the problem with his running
  • Must get lucky and either steal a game they have no business winning, and/or win two of the tossups.
Overall, I'm not too enthusiastic about the Jets' prospects. The AFC is a strong conference with a lot of good teams. Remember that the Bills may surprise a lot of people and end up spoiling the Jets' chances. They are predicted to be a much stronger team than last year, with a pretty good defense. I'm predicting 1-20 odds right now for the Jets making the playoffs, even if Favre ends up playing better than I think he will.

In the meantime, Chad Pennington has been cut loose. You have to think that the ideal place for him to land would be Chicago. They're a strong team, and his assets as a QB would fit well with what they need. This is assuming, of course, that the Bears cease pushing the fantasy that Kyle Orton or Rex Grossman can be the starting QB they need. Barring that, I see Pennington heading off to Miami, Atlanta or Minnesota, though not necessarily to start.
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On 9:50 AM , Brownie said...


Here's my two cents. On paper the Jets now have an explosive offense consisting of a Super Bowl QB, a solid RB, some speedy WRs, a TE who can stretch the field, and a completely rebuilt offensive line. So if this new offense gels, I think that makes them instant playoff contenders. But this is a big "IF".

Second point. I read somewhere that McCarthy pointed to Favre's commitment to studying film as the main reason for Farve's phenomenal last season. So when Farve was asked if he would still be willing to dedicate himself like before his answer wasn't too reassuring (Farve said as much during his "retirement" speech). Unfortunately, I think this is the Farve the Jets got. In the AFC, I don't think just showing up at game time wanting versus ready to play is going to be enough. We going to see yet another example of a great player who can't let it go.

On 9:57 AM , Mad Typist said...

Exactly, brownie. I had the same thought about Favre's wishy-washy response to whether he'd be truly committing to the program and studying film. I get the impression that Brett wants to roll in and play without putting the time in.

Consider also that he is used to being able to play loose and fast and make insane throws, because he knows that someone like Driver is going to be right where he expects. Driver knows that Brett is prone to insane throws and expects that. The Jets receivers don't have that same chemistry and understanding with Brett.

I think you're going to see a lot of INTs from Brett this season.