|With Favre in fold, Jets feeling like winners|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 21 August 2008 13:41|
The Jets general manager knew his team's chances of bringing Brett Favre to New York were slim, but he feverishly began making calls anyway. His cell phone became a constant companion as he tried to set up a conversation with the three-time MVP.
``My gut feeling for a long time was I just didn't think it was going to come to fruition,'' Tannenbaum said. ``And then it really heated up.''
Tannenbaum's persistence became an obsession, and it paid off when Favre finally gave in and agreed to discuss the possibility of joining the Jets.
``I was told by numerous people to at least talk to Mike over the last month,'' Favre said at his introductory news conference, ``and, as I told him, the only reason that I wouldn't talk to him up until 24 hours ago was because I knew how I'd be convinced once I talked to him.''
He was right. Hours after speaking with Tannenbaum and coach Eric Mangini, Favre agreed to leave Green Bay in a trade after 16 seasons and joined the Jets as their new quarterback.
``I've told the guys, 'I'm here for one reason: to help you win,''' Favre said. ``I'll do whatever that takes and I hope it works out.''
In an offseason in which New York made headlines by going on a spending spree - more than $140 million - unlike any other in franchise history, it was the unexpected acquisition of the rocket-armed Favre that suddenly boosted the Jets into true playoff contenders.
New York went from having a huge question mark at the quarterback position with Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens competing for the starting job to having a proven winner with the type of superstar aura last seen on the Jets during Joe Namath's glory days.
``I watched him all the time on TV when I was growing up,'' wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. ``I never thought that I would be playing with him. A guy of his stature, you think he would be playing with one team his entire career. We were very fortunate to get him and he's playing with us right now.''
He sure is, and Jets fans are excited. Over 30,000 of his green and white No. 4 jerseys sold within the first 48 hours of the trade. Training camp practices have been packed with people wanting to catch a glimpse of Favre zipping passes around the field.
``It's cool being out there on the field with him,'' tight end Chris Baker said.
The 38-year-old quarterback is coming off one of his most productive seasons, passing for 4,155 yards and 28 touchdowns for the Packers. Once he becomes comfortable with the Jets' system, he's expected to turn an offense that ranked 26th into a regular scoring threat.
``The big thing with Brett is obviously he pressures the whole field,'' offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. ``He's been doing that his whole career.''
That means Cotchery, who had a career-high 1,130 yards receiving on 82 catches, and Laveranues Coles could be in for big seasons as Favre's primary targets. Favre also likes to use his tight ends. So Baker, exciting rookie Dustin Keller and former Packers teammate Bubba Franks could be busy.
``At any time, the ball can be coming your way,'' said Baker, who had a career-high 41 catches last season. ``It makes it a little more fun because you get out there and you're running routes and you know you're a live option on every play.''
The offensive line should be much-improved with the additions of seven-time Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca and solid veteran Damien Woody at right tackle. They, along with veteran Brandon Moore and promising Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, will have the task of keeping Favre protected on every snap. Not that that's any additional pressure.
``I'm going to do the same thing today and tomorrow that I did last week and the week before that,'' said Faneca, who won a Super Bowl in 10 seasons with Pittsburgh. ``I just have to go out there and do my job.''
Co. will be crucial to helping the Jets improve on a 3.8-yard rushing average with a running game that includes Thomas Jones, Leon Washington and new fullback Tony Richardson.
``What I thought when I came in I think was true,'' Favre said. ``There are some very talented players, very good mix of veterans as well as some young guys. ... To be totally honest with you, I didn't know the Jets were 4-12 last year until I got up here.''
A big reason for that was their sometimes porous run defense, which ranked 29th last season. The Jets brought in space-eating nose tackle Kris Jenkins to help solve that. They also signed linebacker Calvin Pace and drafted Vernon Gholston sixth overall to improve a pass rush that registered only 29 sacks.
``We've been pleased where it's going,'' defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. ``The new players, both the rookies and the free agents, I think have adapted relatively well. They're learning the system, we're learning about them. I think it's moving in the right direction.''
Budding young stars such as linebacker David Harris (team-leading 117 tackles), cornerback Darrelle Revis (three interceptions, 91 tackles) and safety Kerry Rhodes (five INTs) give the Jets a few solid building blocks.
``We're making strides,'' Rhodes said. ``It's just developing the chemistry between us, and the consistency between everybody.''
But it all starts with Favre, who has been careful to make no guarantees as he crams to learn his new playbook - with all eyes on his every move.
``Bottom line is, playing, no matter how good or how bad, you can't really be affected by things you can't control,'' Favre said. ``That's kind of the way I've handled my whole career. Just do what I can do, and not really get caught up in all the other stuff.''