Clouds of Doubt Loom Over Favre Trade
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It’s fair to say that the league-wide perception of the Jets’ trade for Brett Favre is mixed, at best.
The New York Sun spoke with three league sources — an offensive coach who has worked with Favre, a defensive coordinator who has faced Favre in recent years, and a professional personnel director — all speaking on the condition of anonymity, and none were overly excited about what the Jets were getting.
“I just don’t get it,” the director said. “I mean, I don’t see how he’s going to get in there, learn a new scheme, get on the same page as [his receivers], and be able to go for the opener [at Miami]. It’s a lot to ask of a guy, even Brett Favre.”
The West Coast offense Favre has run in Green Bay is not entirely different than the spread-based attack that the Jets’ offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, runs. But it’s an entirely different set of terminology.
“The combinations are all numbered and named differently,” the offensive coach said. “Each [West Coast] system has its own little variations, but it’s easier going from one West Coast offense to another. There’s a lot of overlap because most of the [West Coast disciples] learned it from Bill Walsh. That’s why I thought it would have been [an easier transition] going to the Bucs.”
“Brett’s a guy that likes to freelance, too,” the defensive coordinator said. “He has had no problem changing plays at the line in the past, and you’re not going to get that old dog to break those habits.
“It’s going to be a tug of war, I think. You want a guy like Brett going on his instinct, because it’s so good, but you also want to be sure he knows this [offense] inside and out.”
But that’s just the X’s and O’s that Favre has to face. What about the defenses he’ll go up against?
“He has New England and San Diego right off the bat [in weeks 2 and 3]?” the defensive coordinator asked. “Whoa, boy. They are going to test his protection right away. They have new guys all over that [offensive] line, and Brett had better know his [pass] protections. You’re going to see some different stuff from them in those 3-4 [defenses] — zone pressures, linemen dropping off, [defensive backs] blitzing. I bet they’ll throw the kitchen sink at him.”
Favre’s to-do list is a daunting one. He missed last night’s preseason opener, and it would be a stretch to get him truly ready for next Saturday’s home game against the Washington Redskins. If he does play in that game, he likely will go in with a predetermined package of plays to run, certainly not with the entire offense.
That leaves Favre exactly one week to get ready in a starter’s mind-set for the all-important third preseason game, in which coaches typically like to run their first-team offense and defense for as much as three-quarters of the game. Those games have the feel of a regular-season game more than any other preseason contest. And it’s no small irony that the Jets’ opponent that day will be the crosstown Giants.
There’s little doubt that the Jets have been so aggressive in free agency and the draft because there is one eye on what their neighbors have done in the last seven months. The Giants winning the Super Bowl has put the pressure squarely on the Jets’ three wise men — owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum, and head coach Eric Mangini — to make the team relevant again. Johnson green-lit the team spending; Tannenbaum made several free agent signings, none bigger than Favre, and now Mangini has to get a quarterback who didn’t work in an offseason program for any team ready to go in less than a month.
“I didn’t think they panicked this offseason. I just didn’t like all the signings they made,” the director said. “The [Damien] Woody deal was out of whack; [Calvin] Pace cost them a lot, too. The others I thought were okay.
“But from my perspective, a team that should be better in a lot of phases of the game making a trade for a quarterback on [August 7] wreaks a little of desperation. They wanted [Chad] Pennington’s head with Kellen Clemens’s arm. In theory, you get some of both with Brett, but I just don’t see him step in and playing like he did a year ago.”
Commitment is a question all three had. Will Favre’s heart be in it? Will proving the Packers wrong be his motivation? And is that good for the Jets? Remember, everyone knows Favre’s first preference was to play for the Vikings. Some say the Jets might have been his third choice of the three teams most often mentioned as being interested in his services.
“Weighing the chemistry issue is considerable here,” the director said. “Brett’s a great guy, one of the boys, and the guys will probably love him in the locker room. But is he too much of a rock star now after all this? That’s what I wonder. Can he come in and be just one of the guys? I don’t know.”
Both coordinators mentioned that a lot of Favre’s success in 2007 — when he might have been the MVP had it not been for the Patriots’ Tom Brady — was possible because he dove into the playbook and got back to studying, which he hadn’t been known for doing as much in his later years.
And none of the three men thought there was any way that the Jets suddenly were a better team with Favre than the Patriots are. The Packers were a few plays from a Super Bowl. The Jets will be fighting for a wild card a year after they won four games. If they start out 1-3 or worse, it might be too big of a hole to climb out of to make a run at the postseason. And blame games often happen after big, free-spending off-seasons.
Some trades really do help both teams. But chalk this one up as a lose-lose situation for both Favre and the Jets.
Mr. Edholm, a senior editor at Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.