Can Favre lead Jets back to playoffs? (Photo Source)
The Green Bay era is over, and the New York Jets have landed a Hall of Fame quarterback. Yes, folks, you've all heard that it's official: Brett Favre is a New York Jet.
As dirty as it makes me feel to write about Brett Favre, I'm willingly sacrificing my feeling of cleanliness to send Buffalo Bills fans a message that I hope some of you have already instilled some belief in this morning: don't panic.
There are, of course, immediate ramifications for the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo swept the Jets last season, and were expected to use the Jets as a welcome mat to the AFC playoff bracket this season. Now, with the Jets in possession of a better quarterback - and "better" is about where the increase ends for them, at least at this point - those playoff chances take a hit.
There are reasons, however, to not fear this move. Take your fingers off the panic button and hear me out. I'm of the belief that the Jets were monumentally stupid to trade for Favre, for a few key reasons.
Reason 1: Jets Quarterbacks
So the Jets' new starting quarterback, presumably, is Brett Favre. It's an upgrade, to be certain. But it is without a doubt an upgrade for the short term. And it may not be the upgrade that many fans believe it to be. Set aside the change of scenery and the change in offensive weaponry, because Favre can work with any offensive threat. He turned mediocre wideouts into stars left and right in Green Bay. But he did it working his entire career under one offense. That offense suddenly changes under the tutelage of Brian Schottenheimer, the Jets' offensive coordinator. To believe that there won't be an adjustment period is naive. It may be a short adjustment period, but it will definitely be there.
Don't forget, also, that Kellen Clemens is still the future of that franchise. Now he sits on the sideline, giving way to a guy who is famous for ignoring his understudies. Best case scenario, Clemens turns into Aaron Rodgers watching him. What that means, time will tell. Worst case scenario (for the Jets), Clemens flops, and they're right back in rebuilding mode two years from today. Good for them.
Reason 2: Eric Mangini
Quick - name the most desperate coach in the NFL right now. Is there any doubt that it's Eric Mangini, the guy who threw wads of money at veteran players (Alan Faneca, Tony Richardson, Kris Jenkins) to throw together the quick fix? Mangini made a huge gamble during this off-season, and acquiring Favre exacerbates his desperation. There is now a ton of pressure on Mangini to turn the '08 Jets into a playoff team.
Imagine, for a moment, that something goes wrong, and the Jets miss the playoffs. That would make two straight years on Mangini's record that his teams were gigundous disappointments. His job is unmistakably on the line. Would you want to be the coach who missed the playoffs with all the "name" players that he has? Gregg Williams and Mike Mularkey did it with the Bills; their careers have turned out pretty shiny, right? The Jets are building a team the wrong way, and that will come back to bite them in their large green butts. That segues perfectly into the third reason this move was dumb.
Reason 3: Team-Building Philosophies
There's nothing more irritating in the music business than a one-hit wonder. It irritates me when a team like the Jets go for broke with a one-hit wonder team as well, and that's exactly what they're doing by acquiring Favre. It doesn't irritate me in this case because, well, they're the Jets. I love seeing them build a team this way, because it kills their long-term viability. Their future is now in flux.
I'm not saying Buffalo's future isn't in flux, just that they're going about building the team the right way. In today's NFL, building a perennial winner takes patience. The Jets and Mangini have proven that they don't have much of that. Buffalo has a chance at being a good team for a long time; I no longer see the Jets as close to being in the same boat. I'll take Buffalo's long-term viability over the Jets' at this point - especially since the Bills can still beat the Jets, even with Favre. Need I remind anyone that the last time the Bills faced Favre, it was in a 24-10 victory just two seasons ago? Buffalo's awful defense played Favre well that day (he had 287 yards, a touchdown and two picks).
Does Favre to New York hurt Buffalo's playoff chances in 2008? Certainly, but not to the point where the Bills don't have a somewhat realistic shot at the post-season. Buffalo's defense has improved to the point where it can compete well with a Favre-led Jets team, especially considering the grace period Favre will undoubtedly need to get his feet wet in a brand new offense. The Jets are also now unmistakably a last-gasp team, and Buffalo's future is, for now, much brighter. I'd much rather be a fan of the Bills than a fan of the Jets today - Buffalo has direction; the Jets have desperation.
No panic needed, folks. The Bills are still in good shape. The Jets may not be.