A tale of 3 QBs.
By Bill Smith
Late in training camp in 2008 the Packers traded Bret Favre to the Jets. That trade ripped throughout the NFL like the explosion of a stick of dynamite used by lazy fishermen in a small lake.
The Packers had a problem. They drafted Aaron Rodgers, the QB from California, in the first round in 2005. As of the beginning of 2008 football year, they had paid him a little over 6 million and were required to pay almost 2 million in 08. They drafted him because Favre began to play spin the bottle to determine if he would come back to play each year or not. As the preseasons rolled by, it took him more and more time to spin that bottle.
In January of 2008, the team decided that it was time to “move beyond” the Favre era and make Rodgers the starter. It looked like Favre would retire to everyone except Favre. When he came back there was more coverage of his arrival than there was of the OJ Simpson drive on the LA freeway after the murder of his wife. The 24 hour sports news channel sent people to his home in Mississippi to talk to him. Then fans and the news media gathered at the airport to wait for his arrival in Green Bay.
New York Jets:
The Jets had a quarterback that management didn’t like but fit the coach’s game at all. Chad Pennington had arm injuries that had reduced what was never a particularly strong arm to begin with. More important, management wanted to get the Giants off the back page of the newspaper by making a big splash in 08. Pushing the surprise 2007 world champion off the back page was not going to be easy but that was the goal.
A new administration without a QB. Any QB would do. Even though they went 1-15, they had a decent D and needed a QB to go with a deep and expensive if not spectacular running game.
You all know what happened after that. What I want to focus on is why it all happened and what should have been done be each of the teams in the soap opera to make things work out better.
What Green Bay should have done:
The Pack did well to get something for Favre. They were taking a risk with Rodgers because he had been hurt in almost every game he played and even once in warm-ups. They got lucky that he lasted all season but when the league D coordinators had a couple of game tapes on Rodgers, they adjusted and Rodgers was not able to. The result was that he started hot and ended up with an aging playoff quality team out of the big dance.
What the Jets should have done:
The Jets should never have traded for Favre. He did not fit the offense of Eric Mangini at all. Based on the final couple of games in 07 season, Favre had also lost some zip on his passes. But management got the back page by doing the deal for Favre. They then released Pennington who was signed in a Miami second by the Dolphins.
Remember that the Jets had made the playoffs in 06 with a 10-6 record but fallen to 4-12 in 07. The Jets took a team that had shown it might be able to challenge for a playoff spot to a hot start. When they went to Tennessee and beat the undefeated Titans, there was talk about the Jets being the best team in the AFC. Not so fast. From that game they lost to Denver at home and then a revitalized 49er team in SF. The coupe de gras was in week 17 when the exiled Pennington brought his Dolphins to NY and beat the Jets. Oops! Mangini who never wanted Favre was fired and the Jets now play spin the bottle with an aging and injured QB and have nothing behind him that even looks like an NFL QB.
The Dolphins did exactly the right thing. Grab Pennington and work the O around what he could do very well and not what he was unable to do. They laughed all the way to an AFC East championship, one of the great turnarounds in the history of the NFL, and the playoffs.
Those that fail to learn from history are not as the old saying goes doomed to repeat it. They are just doomed.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .A tale of 3 QBs. by Bill Smith