Favre Will Make the AFC East Fun Again

With Brett Favre's trade from the Packers to Jets, New England's Tom Brady now has a formidable quarterback adversary in the AFC East. Scout.com's Ed Thompson takes a look at the impact of the trade on the Jets, the AFC East and why no one should take Favre lightly, even as he approaches his 39th birthday.

Although Brett Favre won't be wearing a Green Bay Packers uniform this season, at least he'll still be wearing green. Visually, that'll make the transition a bit less startling when he starts tossing touchdown passes for the New York Jets after sixteen seasons in Green Bay.

And while Favre won't immediately be surrounded by the offensive talent he enjoyed in Green Bay, it's going to be fun to watch him battle Tom Brady and the Patriots twice a season. After all, weren't you getting bored with watching Brady work against the likes of Cleo Lemon, J.P. Losman and whatever Jets QB was healthy enough to take some snaps in recent years?

With the NFL's career leader in touchdown passes (442) and three-time MVP award-winner in New York, Trent Edwards emerging as an exciting talent in Buffalo, and young players with promise such as John Beck and Chad Henne in Miami, AFC East matchups could actually become fun to watch again. 


Brett Favre searches for a receiver downfield during preseason action against the Steelers in 2007.
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

For the Jets, this decision was a no-brainer. The team's compensation to the Packers for Favre  has been reported as a fourth-round pick that increases to as high as a first-round pick based on the quarterback's and the Jets' performance in 2008.

Unless the team negotiates a new deal with the future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Jets will have to jettison some talent to make room for his $12 million salary since they had just under $7 million in excess cap money to work with when they worked out the details of the trade. If they opt to trade or release Chad Pennington, they will save $6 million in salary, but he still has $6 million in prorated bonus money on his current deal. Their net savings this year would be $3 million and they could push the other $3 million of "dead money" against their 2009 cap. That would give them nearly $10 million for Favre, but that won't be enough unless the former Packer signs a new deal with his new team, lowering his $12 million cap hit by accepting a big signing bonus that could be spread over the length of that new deal. Otherwise, it'll take more than a release of Pennington for the Jets to fit him under their cap.

The former second-round draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons will be 39 years old in October. But you wouldn't know it when you look at his durability and youthful enthusiasm on the playing field. Favre has started all 16 regular season games in every season since 1993. To put that in perspective, Bill Clinton was being sworn in as President of the United States, the Bills became the first team to lose three consecutive Super Bowls following a 52-17 trouncing by the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII, and Intel shipped the first Pentium chip for computers in 1993.

But have his skilled declined in recent years as he's aged? The numbers sure don't support that argument outside of the fact that he's only led his team to a total of a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes of play during the past two seasons. 

Favre's 66.5-percent completion rate and 7.8 yards per passing attempt in 2007 were the best of his career. And his 4,155 passing yards was his third-highest single-season total. The 15 interceptions he threw marked his lowest total since 2001, and his 2.8 percent interception rate was his best since 2000. With a feisty, never-say-die attitude on the field, Favre managed to avoid the pass rush effectively as well. His 15 sacks were the second-least since 1993. And his 95.7 passer rating was his best since 1996.

New York Jets fans should sleep better tonight and enter the season with optimism that they'll see improved play from their offense with Favre at the helm. A quarterback who still has a child-like passion for playing the game, is used to playing in cold, sloppy conditions late in the season, and who has the ability to inspire younger players around him will invigorate their team. 

Favre isn't fading

Any New York fans who may not be convinced that Favre still has plenty left in his tank should check out these numbers that I pulled from STATS.


Brett Favre celebrates with WR Ruvell Martin after throwing a touchdown pass to Donald Driver in the NFC Championship game in January, 2008.
AP Photo/Mike Roemer

Still in the zone:  In 2007, out of 27 QBs who had at least 30 pass attempts inside their opponent's 20-yard line, Favre had a fourth-best 59.4-percent completion rate behind New Orleans' Drew Brees, St. Louis' Marc Bulger and New England's Tom Brady. His 18 red-zone touchdown passes put him in a tie for seventh-best with Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Dalas' Tony Romo. Favre posted the fourth-best passer rating ( 102.0) in the red zone last year.

Taking control of the game: Favre's seven 300-yard games in 2007 tied Romo for second place in the league, just a game off the stellar pace of Brady.

In the clutch:  Out of the quarterbacks who threw the ball at least 100 times on third down last season, Favre had the fifth-best completion rate at 62.3 percent. And his passer rating of 92.6 was seventh-best. Among that same group of quarterbacks, his fourth quarter performances in 2007 earned him a fifth-best ranking in both completion rate (62.6 percent) and passer rating (91.2).

Under pressure:  Against the blitz, Favre's 65.5-percent completion rate was second only to Brady's 70.8 percent. But one downside is that he threw nine interceptions, putting him in a tie for worst with Tennessee's Vince Young when compared to other QBs with at least 100 pass attempts against a blitz.  

He's consistent:  At home or away, Favre has put together career numbers that are remarkably similar: His completion percentage at home is 61.5 versus 61.3 during away games. He's thrown 226 touchdown passes at home, and 216 as a member of the visiting team. Favre's completed 219 passes for 25-plus yards at home and 214 on the road. And, on average, he's only thrown slightly more than one interception per season during away games than home games.

Big-play ability:  The former Packer ranked sixth in the league with 49 passes for 20-plus yards in 2007. And he tied for fourth place with ten 20-plus-yard touchdown passes.

Spreading it around:  Last season, Favre threw 21.7 percent of his passes to his running backs, 18.8 percent to his tight ends, and 56.5 percent to his wide receivers. But in New York, don't be surprised to see him throw more to the tight ends than to his running backs with Chris Baker, former Packers teammate Bubba Franks, and talented rookie Dustin Keller running routes.


A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email through this link.

Statistics referenced in this article are provided by STATS, LLC. Copyright 2008 by STATS, LLC. Any use or distribution of such Licensed Materials without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited. 


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