Brett Favre's 2005 and 2006 seasons painted him as a quarterback on the decline.
In 2005, Favre recorded his worst ever quarterback rating and, as a result, lead the Packers to their worst season since he had taken up the position.
Although the Packers rebounded in 2006, going 8-8 and just missing a playoff spot due to a tiebreaker with the New York Giants, Favre still struggled.
At the end of the two seasons, he was off his averages by 15 points in quarterback rating, three percent in completion percentage, almost a full yard in yards per pass completion, and had thrown, between 2005 and 2006, a whopping 47 passes for interceptions and only 38 passes for touchdowns.
Surface statistics ignore the fact that the Packers, in general, were a poorly performing, generally talent-less, injury-riddled team.
Favre lost his best receiver and running back, Javon Walker and Ahmad Green, at the start of the 2005 season.
Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, Pro Bowl guards, left the Packers to test the free agent market and, consequently, Favre was sacked 24 times in 2005 and 21 times in 2006, among the highest numbers in the NFL.
In the end, how good could a quarterback really be if teams don’t fear an explosive running game, don’t cringe when a ball is thrown to a No. 1 receiver in single coverage, and find a way to put him on his back after every pass play?
The question was partially answered in the 2007 season when Favre had, arguably, his best season since 1996.
With the late emergence of Ryan Grant, the Packers' franchise had done a 180-degree turn.
Good offensive line?
The Packers went 13-3 and were given a decent chance to advance to the Super Bowl.
If not for a terrible pass from Favre in overtime against the New York Giants, they may have gotten there, and with the way the Patriots played in the Super Bowl, who knows, they may have won, too.
That’s neither here nor there, though.
It seems that Favre still has it, as long as he isn’t playing on a team full of rookies or has-beens.
The Jets don’t have a particularly remarkable lineup at wide receiver.
Laveranues Coles was once supposed to be the team’s deep threat, but injuries have kept him down and will probably continue to keep him from being any more than a solid second or third-slot receiver.
Jerricho Cotchery is a decent wideout and will probably match or improve upon his impressive numbers from last season.
Brad Smith, who used to be a backup QB, is a reliable third-slot receiver and, while he certainly shouldn’t be on anyone’s fantasy radar, I think he’ll be a good for short gains.
Other than that, unless some rookies step up, Favre downgraded significantly from the Packers, in terms of receiving corps talent and ability. Though, between the Jets and the Vikings, the two teams rumored to be most interested in giving Favre the starting job he wanted, the Jets were definitely the better pick.
Luckily for the Jets, a five to 15-yard passing attack can work if you have a solid running game. It puts safeties and corners back in zone coverage and keeps them from trying to blitz the quarterback. Behind a vastly improved offensive line, the Jets' running game should be significantly better this season than it has been recently.
Thomas Jones didn’t have a terrible season last year, actually, his only problem was that the Jets seemed to think he could not get himself into the end zone.
In 338 rushing attempts and passing receptions, Jones never coughed the ball up to another team. Combine that with a decent yards-per-rush average and a 1,000-yard effort, and you can do the math. Jones should be a decent RB that will give Favre some time to breathe in the pocket.
If there is one aspect of the Jets that was improved more than quarterback, it was the offensive line.
Although it is tough to predict how the unit will perform with so many new players, the additions of Brandon Moore and Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca should bolster a developing Nick Mangold and D’Bricksahw Ferguson.
I’d give Jones another half-yard or so onto his average just because of the line.
So, what does that all add up to?
Favre is still very much limited by the receiving corps. If the problem in Green Bay was that he only passes as well as his receivers run routes and catch, it might be a long season for the Jets’ passing attack.
Favre, in his history, has not performed well in systems that involve five-yard pass after five-yard pass. He’s a big-time quarterback and he’s going to want to make big-time plays.
He doesn’t have time to nurture relationships with developing rookies because he’ll be formally retired before they get starting spots.
Without a doubt, the passing game will be formulated around Favre’s wants and needs, so we’re all going to be left to wonder whether or not he can squeeze big plays out of Coles and Cotchery.
I think the results will be mostly mixed, and I would not expect Favre to repeat last season’s success in New York.
In New York’s first four games, we’ll probably be able to see whether they are a solid team or simply a bad team with a Hall of Fame quarterback.
The Jets play Miami, New England, San Diego, and Arizona. They should win in the first and fourth game. They can win the third game. They won’t win the second. If they can go 3-1 to open the season, their playoff chances aren’t terrible.
Let’s say the Jets can take two of those four games. They'll lose to the Patriots and the Chargers. They are 2-2. Favre gives them a chance to be the favorites in nine or so of their remaining games, playing at six home games against subpar teams to finish up the season.
Does 9-7 or 10-6 get the Jets into the playoffs? Probably not in the AFC.
The games most likely to determine whether or not the Jets get into the playoffs will be Week Seven against Oakland, Weeks Nine and 15 against Buffalo, and Week 12 against Denver. They need to put away these teams in order to get the conference wins they’ll lose against the Chargers and Patriots.
But, if the Jets open the season with losses to every AFC team under the sun, there’s no amount of magic Favre can throw to save the season.
With so many changes to the roster, the Jets are a huge question mark coming into the 2008 season.
Will Favre return to his 2005-2006 woes under the pressure of a second-rate receiving corps?
Can the receivers step up with a better quarterback?
Will the offensive line protect Favre and the running game?
But most of all: Can Favre gives new life to the offense so that they can win the games the patchwork defense cannot?
These are all legitimate questions to ask. If pressed to judge right now, they go 7-9, maybe get an eighth or ninth win, but definitely miss the playoffs.
Scott Harris is also the Managing Editor of AllFourQuarters.com.