Thursday, August 07, 2008

Brett's A Jet

LET'S SEE... any big sports news today? Well, in baseball yesterday we almost had a perfect game pitched, Joba Chamberlain went on the DL and the Tampa Bay Rays won yet another dramatic game. You've got the China Olympics starting. Yawn. And oh yeah, didn't someone in football find a new team in an unlikely place?

Actually heard about it late last night just before setting the alarm on my clock radio: Brett Favre is coming to the Jets for a 4th round pick, that could escalate to a 3rd rounder if he gets 50% of the snaps, could be a 2nd rounder if he gets 70% of the snaps and Jets make the playoffs, and could even be a first-rounder in the unlikely event Favre leads them to the Super Bowl. I would say Packers are looking at a 3rd round pick here, but stranger things have happened. No one knows, but at least now it's a football-related question as opposed to the soap opera circus of the last few weeks.

One thing that won't happen is the Jets turning around and trading Favre to the Vikings. According to the terms of the trade, that little maneuver would result in the Jets forfeiting 3 first-round draft picks to Green Bay. Talk about your poison pill!

This is huge news for the NFL, to have a marquee player in the Big Apple for the start of a new year. I'm sure Favre is eager to erase the bitter memory of last year's NFC championship game loss to the Giants. Anyone with eyes knows that Brett Favre was the main reason the Packers lost that game in Overtime, throwing one of the most ill-advised interceptions in league annals. But that's not how some see it. Already the Brett apologists are out in force. ESPN's Max Kellerman this morning came out of the gate spinning. Kellerman, a Columbia graduate, obviously didn't major in Logic, saying Favre "had a good game versus an excellent Giant defense that day," and that "if Favre played so poorly that day against the Giants, then why did it take one of the great games of all time from the wide receiver position in Plaxico Burress to beat the Packers?" I wish I was kidding, but the bad joke is on us: this guy has his own daily show weekdays on ESPN radio.

Favre was 19-35 for 236 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs that January 20 in frigid Green Bay. Admittedly, those numbers don't look immediately horrendous, but remember that 90 of those yards came on the TD to Donald Driver, a pass which traveled about 3 yards in the air. Take that one pass away and he's 18-34 for 146, which begins to tell the story. But it's that godawful pick in OT, giving the Giants the ball in Green Bay territory, that cost the Pack the game. It's also a play that is all too representative of Favre's inability to get it done recently in the postseason, and in my opinion was the overriding factor in the Pack finally severing ties with their legendary QB after 16 seasons under center.

But if you're a Jet fan this morning, or even this afternoon and later tonight, you're thrilled about the upcoming year, even as former golden boy Chad Pennington is shown the exits. Favre had a better regular season in 2007 than anyone could have expected, and once he learns the system will give the Jets their best QB play since the magical season Vinny T. gave them in 1998.
Pennington will be unemployed less than 24 hours from when he's given his Jets release, and as a Cowboy fan I wouldn't mind seeing the cerebral signal caller land in Dallas backing up and tutoring Tony Romo. Pennington would be a big improvement over current No. 2 Brad Johnson. But I think teams like the Chiefs, Vikes and Bucs might beat Dallas to the punch and, more importantly, offer Chad the opportunity to win a No. 1 job.

Everything is overhyped in New York sports, and this will be no different. Remember when the Knicks got Zach Randolph and everyone said he and Eddie Curry will make the Knicks unstoppable. I think you know how that one ended. Signing pitcher Johan Santana was supposed to make 2008 a cakewalk for the New York Mets. Check your standings today to see how that's going so far. The Rangers win every offseason spending big bucks for big names and then the games begin, the season ends and it's another team hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup.

But Brett can still play, he can still lead, and may be just what the Jets needed, at least for one season. Putting the development of Kelly Clemens on hold, and turning the franchise over to a 39-year-old whose best days are behind him is a win-now move that smacks of some desperation. That doesn't mean it can't work out if everything goes right. In a tough conference, I see the Jets winning 9 or 10 games, not enough to make the playoffs as a wild card.

One thing's for sure: The AFC East just did get a whole lot more interesting today with the arrival of #4. You've got the Patriots geared up for another Super Bowl run and Miami with Bill Parcells at the helm, making their own recent headlines at the QB position after bringing in ex-Cowboy Quincy Carter. (Just heard that Dolphins are in talks with Pennington!) Even Buffalo, 7-9 last year, looks to be improved talentwise. It's not loaded top to bottom like the NFC East, but at least New England will have a game on its hands every week. I'll even go out on a limb and say I don't see the Pats getting out to a 15-0 start again, unless coach Bill Belichick used the offseason to perfect that mind-reading of opposing coaches he tinkered with last year.

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