Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
07 Aug 2008
compiled by Doug Farrar
Bill Barnwell: How does this change New York's Expected Wins?
Aaron Schatz: I just ran the numbers, and all did was improve their mean expected wins from 7.2 to 7.6. The question is how much you assume Favre had to do with the Packers offense as opposed to the other 10 guys... I can't just go and change all the DVOA ratings that I use in the projection system to match the 2007 Packers instead of the 2007 Jets, especially if you remember that the 2006 Jets had a better passing DVOA than the 2006 Packers did. If you've read the book, you know that our projection system already expected the Jets to rebound on offense.
Bill Barnwell: As we've discussed previously, the problem with the Jets last year wasn't their quarterback. It was an offensive line that leaked pass rushers, a defensive line unable to stop the run, and a group of linebackers who didn't fit the defense they played for. Will Favre be an upgrade on Pennington or Clemens? Sure. Will it be enough to make a huge difference, justify his salary and the displacement of another large salary, and the media swell that follows? No. Brett Favre can't stop offensive linemen from setting up shop three yards in front of the line of scrimmage, he can't get to Chad Henne, and unless he's really been working on his jumping ability, he can't stop Randy Moss. And that's what the Jets need. Getting Favre isn't going to hurt them, but it's not a magic tonic by any means.
I've said this 100 times, but if I'm the Minnesota Vikings, I am on the phone right now to Mike Tannenbaum and offering him a draft pick for Chad Pennington. And I'm not hanging up till he says yes.
The scheme issue is the biggest thing for me when it comes to projecting Favre's performance. Favre's moving into a brand new scheme for the first time, really, in two decades. Brian Schottenheimer has no connection with Favre in his past.
Of course, the flip side is also true. The Jets system as installed up to this point, I'm sure, is going to be built around protecting the weaknesses of their quarterbacks, whoever they are. Do they blow out the system to allow Favre to do more? If so, then 11 guys have to learn a new scheme, not just Favre and Faneca.
Mike Tanier: The scheme is the thing here. It is August 7th. The terminology is different. The basis of the scheme is different, than anything he has ever done. Can he really have 50 percent of the offense ingested by the season opener? While at the same time practicing with a team for the first time since January, getting up to speed? While handling LOTS of media? And when did Favre become known as the guy who succeeds because he logs hours in the film room and studies the playbook?
I like the 7.2 wins to 7.6 wins projection. By November or December, he's up to speed enough to affect a game. Yeah, he can sneak them into a Wild Card situation. Hooray.
Doug Farrar: It's an odd fit. I don't like Favre as the swashbuckler anymore; he throws ridiculous picks into tight double coverage with shorter reads open, and everyone in the booth talks about how much "fun" it is. Green Bay has been re-tooling its offense to resemble a pseudo-spread in which you'll see a lot of wide shotgun sets, receivers who are great after the catch, and running backs that benefit from those lanes. The short game has really been the hallmark of Favre's recent success. Adding Jordy Nelson in this year's draft -- yikes. I don't think he gets how much he'll miss that. Not to denigrate New York's receivers at all, it's just that the Packers have quite a group there.
The Jets ran more four-wide shotgun sets than any other team last year, but they weren't particularly successful (-25.0% DVOA in 194 plays, compared to Green Bay's 64.1% DVOA in 76 plays). They also finished pretty badly in yards after catch for a team built around the short stuff -- 26th overall compared to Green Bay's league lead. Can Favre split the difference? Maybe, but I would think one advantage of that kind of offense is that you can put a guy who isn't world-class in there and expect decent results. So how much is that difference going to show? And what happens when the efficiency he's used to isn't there, and he starts pressing? Is he reverts to 2005-06 form, this could get really ugly really quickly.
Bill Moore: As a Patriots fan, I'm not really fearing the fact that the Jets acquired Favre; however, I don't think this is a terrible move for the Jets. Although the expected wins may only go up 0.4, that's more than any 3rd- or 4th-round draft pick would add. Yes, there is a cap impact, but since they have the room it's not that big of a deal. They were unlikely to add a different $6 million player at this point in the season. The net difference between Pennington's $6mm and Favre's $12 million can be more than made up on a Profit &Loss basis in non-football operations. Plus, I have to imagine that even if the Jets start 2-5, the fans have to be dramatically more interested in Game 8 with Favre at the helm vs. Pennington or Clemens.
Benjy Rose: One thing missing here -- and that unfortunately can't be quantified -- is the psychological impact on the team overall. Sean can attest to this, but Jets fans haven't had a QB to get excited about since Joe Namath. We love Chad. He's a great humble guy, extremely smart, and will likely make a great offensive coordinator or head coach one day. But we've never been confident in his ability to win games. There's always been the lingering leaning-over-on-two-legs-of-a-chair feeling whenever he was called upon to make the game-winning drive. I haven't seen enough of Clemens to make any sort of judgment, but before Chad, we had Vinnie Meatballs, the Mid-90's Featuring Browning Nagle and Ray Lucas and the Vortex of Suck, Boomer Esiason (who was decent but done), Ken O'Brien (clearly a step or two below his classmates), Richard Todd (solid but unspectacular)....
This is somewhat equivalent to the Saints getting Drew Brees -- it lends them legitimacy, gives them confidence. Can he make a substantial difference? I don't know, but it'll be a very different feeling to watch 'em.
Russell Levine: All in all, this might be an okay move for the Jets. Regardless of the outcome, someday some college will give a course on personnel crisis management and this will be a case study in what to avoid.
Think of the stakes for the Packers. If they tank this year and Rodgers sucks, and Favre is even halfway competent, everybody is going to get canned. That is a team with Super Bowl personnel, and they could not find a way to start one of the all-time greats at QB, a guy coming off one of his better seasons, a guy that by and large is worshipped by the fan base. Instead, they're going with a totally unproven player at the most important position. It will be interesting to watch.
Sean McCormick: I'm fairly neutral on this move. I don't think it's a bad one as far as what the team gave up, particularly when you consider that they are probably going to get something, albeit a lower pick, for Pennington (who should absolutely be getting fitted for a Vikings jersey around now). No, the quarterbacks were not the primary problem last year. That said, the team clearly wants to run a more vertical offense and they couldn't do it with a healthy Pennington, regardless of how well the offensive line played. They could do it with Kellen Clemens, but Clemens hasn't shown that he is ready to step in and start. Maybe this means that he's essentially a bust or maybe it means that he needs another year to develop, but for a coaching staff coming off a 4-12 season, you can see why they wouldn't be comfortable throwing their lot in with Clemens. It's not like this is Kansas City and everyone knows that the next two years are going to be terrible.
Honestly, I see this as a continuation of the entire off-season philosophy of bringing in heavy-duty hold the fort guys. It's not necessarily a rejection of the notion of building through the draft, but rather an understanding that the team wants to hit their problem spots immediately, then adding younger players to groom behind them.
My one concern would be that this is an attempt to take some press away from the Giants. That's really, really not the way to go about building a franchise. But I don't think that was the primary motivation here. Honestly, this doesn't strike me as being terribly different from the Pats getting Randy Moss for a fourth. It's a reasonable investment for the potential return, and it does imply that the team had seen enough of Pennington to know they wanted to do something else at the quarterback spot.
Mike Tanier: After talking to my wife and reviewing my Educational Psychology, I am even more concerned about Favre's learning curve in an all new system with new lingo.
Have any of you 30+-year olds tried learning a new language lately? It is probably five times as hard as it was when you were 18, or 22. What if you just wanted to learn a new programming language? I tried C++ 4 years ago and felt like an idiot, and I could code in BASIC at 10 and PASCAL at 14. And I can't do HTML to save my life.
Maybe Gus Frerotte can still do it because he has always picked up a new system every 2 years, it is a built-in survival capability. But Favre may open that new playbook, find all new terminology, and get a brain cramp that doesn't go away for a month.
And not since Unitas has a quarterback been in a situation that bad, right? The Chiefs imported the West Coast with Joe Montana. What other quarterback has kept the same offensive terminology (adapting and changinga little, but the same overall thang) for 18 years?
Will Carroll: That implies that Favre isn't going to be accomodated. I have a really hard time believing that.
Benjy Rose: That's a great point. Think about the Jets' system right now. It's been built around an inexperienced new QB and one who can't throw the 15-yard Out. They've GOT to change some things around for Favre. Not so much the deep stuff, although those should increase, but I'm thinking more mid-range stuff that Pennington just couldn't throw. More over-the middle plays (that aren't quick slants), more 8-15 yard Outs... more patterns that require arm strength. That's where I think we'll see the most change.
Will Carroll: Aren't the Jets and Giants selling PSLs right now? Not sure anyone envisions Favre being there for the new stadium in 2010, but it's certainly a selling point. Over at Baseball Prospectus, Nate Silver did an article on the value of a playoff win being so high that it increased the value of wins between 81 and 90 so much, and from 90 and 95 even more. Is this a similar situation, where there's more value in going from a eight-win team to a nine-win team?
Bill Barnwell: Not really. The Jets will sell out 2009 regardless of their record this year. It's like the Red Sox -- winning the World Series has less of an upside for them because there's no seats to be filled.
Will Carroll: But there's still an additional playoff game, revenue from merchandise sales, etc. whether it's the Red Sox or the Rays. I'd venture that when you're maxed out like the Sox, there's even more of a big effect in making the playoffs.
Bill Barnwell: I really can't fathom that. Sure, they make a lot of money off that playoff game, but if the Red Sox go one-and-done, they get two home games at 35,000 tickets each (and while I may have paid absurd levels of cash for Red Sox tickets in '04, it was from sclapers) with some minor additional cash from merchandise. Versus a team like the Rays, who could see 5,000 more people per game for 82 games? That math seems impossible to me, even if the Red Sox win the World Series. Think about it -- the Red Sox, even if they win the World Series and play the max home games (11), would have to see a difference of more than seven times what the Rays make on the market for their games, despite not having any additional seats to sell. The demand for Red Sox tickets is so high that I'd imagine there's three or four people who are interested in each seat each day it becomes available. NFL tickets, outside of Jacksonville, tend to be the same.
Aaron Schatz: Also, I'm not sure how teams split the money with playoff games, but the chances of a Jets playoff game in January 2009 are a lot higher than the chances of a Jets home playoff game in January 2009. To get a home playoff game, they would need to beat the Patriots for the division title. Like the Texans, the "hope" for the Jets is really a wild card, not a division title.
130 comments, Last at 13 Aug 2008, 10:10pm by kleph