Who benefits the most from Favre?

Where would Brett Favre help the Vikings the most, and which players would benefit? We took a look a look at the statistics of his Green Bay Packers teammates during and after Favre, and did the same with the New York Jets before and during Favre. One statistic especially stood out.

Brett Favre says he knows he still has what it takes to play in the NFL, but he wants to be certain he's 100 percent before he commits to playing with the Vikings in 2009.

"I can't go in at any less (than 100 percent). At 39 years old, it's hard enough," he said Wednesday in Mississippi. "It's getting there. Having it here and having it on the field on Sundays is two different things."

NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell saw a dropoff in Favre's performance last year when he reviews the film, and it's not just the final five games of the 2008 season, when Favre's shoulder was bothering him.

"I watched every throw Brett made in 2008 again over the last couple of months and what was noticeable to me was that, unlike when he was younger, he really struggles to throw the ball to the outside," Cosell told Ross Tucker of Sports Illustrated. "He is still very effective in the middle of the field, but he can't snap off the throws that are outside the hashes like he used to. It is clear he has some limitations on the perimeter."

But with many aspects of the Favre story, for every analysis, there seems to be a contrary opinion.

Jay Hughes, a wide receiver and running back for Oak Grove High School who has been catching passes from Favre the last two summers, says the corner routes have been Favre's best passes and that he looks better this year than he did last year at this time.

So what does Favre's recent history with two different teams say about which offensive players benefit the most from his presence? We took a look a look at the statistics of his Green Bay Packers teammates during and after Favre, and did the same with the New York Jets before and during Favre.

First, the Packers.

As a team, the Packers only gained eight more first downs with Favre in 2007 than they did with Aaron Rodgers in 2008, but there is a difference in how those first downs came. With Favre, 210 first downs were gained passing; with Rodgers, it was 182. On the whole, the Packers gained 313 more offensive yards with Favre than they did with Rodgers, despite more than a 200-yard difference in rushing yards in favor of Rodgers' team last year. For total passing yards, Favre's 2007 team outgained Rodgers' 2008 team by more than 500 yards, as Favre took far fewer sacks (15, compared to Rodgers' 34 last year).

Individually and not surprisingly, running back Ryan Grant rushed the ball more last year with Rodgers than he did with Favre, 312 times compared to 188, but his average went down. In 2007, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry while that dipped to 3.9 yards last year. That might indicate a difference in the way teams defense Green Bay's offense. The Packers also used their backup running backs much more often in 2007 than they did last year (Brandon Jackson had 30 fewer carries and DeShawn Wynn had 42 fewer).

On the receiving end, the most distinct difference is that Greg Jennings had a much better year with Rodgers than he did with Favre, while Donald Driver's catches went down but his yardage dipped only slightly. Jennings had 53 receptions for 920 yards with Favre and increased to 80 catches for 1,292 yards with Rodgers. Driver had 82 catches for 1,048 yards with Favre and 74 catches for 1,012 yards with Rodgers.

Minnesota's Visanthe Shiancoe may be right about how much Favre likes to use his tight ends. With Favre, Green Bay tight end Donald Lee had 48 catches for 575 yards. With Rodgers, the numbers dipped to 39 catches for 303 yards. Each of the quarterbacks seemed to use their running backs in the passing game about equally.

The Jets appeared to benefit with the addition of Favre last year. They had 22 more first downs and increased their third-down conversion rate about 4 percent. But the biggest increase was in total offensive yards. Without Favre in 2007, the Jets gained 4,715 yards; with him in 2008, they had 5,307 – and 300 yards of that can be attributed to their increased rushing yards.

Just like the comparison with Rodgers, Favre showed he knows how to avoid the sack. With Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens in 2007, the Jets took 53 sacks. With Favre last year, they only took 30. Favre's completion percentage was more than 5 points better and he had seven more touchdown passes and three more interceptions. His passer rating was 81, while the Pennington/Clemens duo the previous years combined for a 73.9 rating.

Just like there was a changing of the guard in the production of the receivers in Green Bay, the same was true in New York. With Favre, Jerricho Cotchery's production went down. He had 82 receptions for 1,130 yards pre-Favre, compared to 71-858 with him. Laveranues Coles saw the opposite effect. He had 55 catches for 646 yards in 2007 and increased to 70 catches for 850 yards with Favre. The top tight end increased his production under Favre, but it was also a different tight end. While Chris Baker had 41 catches for 409 yards in 2007; Dustin Keller had 48 catches for 535 yards with Favre.

While the Jets' and Packers' offenses were both churning out more yards with Favre, one thing stood out most when comparing the two offenses with and without him, and it didn't have anything to do with interceptions or completion percentages. There was a significant decrease in the number of sacks Favre took compared to the quarterbacks used before him (with the Jets) and after him (with the Packers).


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