Muscle Sport Magazine

Favre Move Leaves Jets QB Cupboard Bare

Whichever way you slice it, swapping a 39-year-old quarterback for one seven years his junior can always be a risky proposition, especially when the younger of the two has already led your team to playoff wins. By trading for Brett Favre and cutting Chad Pennington, the Jets basically put all their eggs into one basket and hope that 2008 would be more than just the 40th anniversary of their one and only Super Bowl win.

As it turned out, a gray and battered Favre melted down the stretch while a rejuvenated Pennington turned a one-win team into a division champion. As hard as that was to swallow, having Favre announce his retirement leaves the Jets in a much worse position than before they acquired the sure-bet first ballot Hall of Famer.

The knock against Pennington was that he didn’t possess a strong arm and couldn’t stretch the field. Ironically, during the five-game winning that gave the Jets an 8-3 record, the offense was moving the ball when Favre was throwing it underneath to his running backs and tight ends, rather than trying to hit the home run down the field. Earlier in the season, he was throwing a lot of interceptions by forcing the ball in. Starting with the November 30 home loss to Denver, Favre began throwing the ball into double coverage again and his stats went south. During the Jets’ 1-4 record to close out the season, Favre threw only two touchdown passes and nine picks.

An injury that he described as pain coming from his right shoulder wasn’t revealed until after the last game and a subsequent MRI showed that Favre had a torn bicep. “It actually started (hurting) probably when I started throwing back in the summer,” he said. “Ever so slight and not very often but just enough that I’d just wrote it off as just old age or whatever. Each week, just with wear and tear, it progressively (became worse) and I’m not a doctor, but I think, as the season progressed, it would tear just a little bit (more).”

Favre retiring helps the Jets in one aspect as they get salary cap relief from the $13 million he was to receive. While that may help on the open market, they currently have to decide between three quarterbacks on the roster that have started a combined total of eight NFL games – all by Kellen Clemens, who failed miserably when given an opportunity to take Pennington’s job in 2007. His career stats (five touchdowns and 11 interceptions) hardly make him a sure-thing to be named the starter in 2009.

Then you have Brett Ratliff, who has received a lot of positive print in the New York area even though he can only hang his helmet on a few exhibition games in which he played extremely well. The undrafted former practice squad player said that he feels “very confident” and after speaking to new Jets head coach Rex Ryan, is only asking “for an opportunity to prove myself, to show my abilities.”

Erik Ainge, who was a low round draft pick out of Tennessee last year, missed time with a foot injury and was also suspended four games for using a banned substance.

Do the Jets bring in a short-term solution again, such as Jeff Garcia or Kerry Collins? Or do they go after a younger QB like Kyle Boller, who Ryan knows from his time in Baltimore?

There is always the draft and two names (Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman) have already been mentioned as being on the Jets radar, but they may have to trade up from their position at number 17 to get one of them.

This team is talented and improved in many ways last season, but they would have been in much better shape right now with Pennington behind center than a huge question mark.

Photo by Bill Menzel

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