Allen Barra: Mangini Wasn’t the Problem — Favre Is


“I don’t think it was one thing,” said Jets owner Woody Johnson after firing head coach Eric Mangini last Monday.  “There’s nothing specific. It’s just a call we made. Hopefully, it’s correct.”

Wrong, Woody.  It was one thing, it was something specific. And no, your call wasn’t, hopefully, correct. You fired a first rate head coach who had two winning seasons  (10-6 in 2006, 9-7 this past year) in three years and who is responsible for sending an NFL-high seven players to the next Pro Bowl.  The four losses in the last five games and failure to make the playoffs can be credited to the man you hired, overrated prima donna Brett Favre, who had just two touchdowns and nine interceptions in those last five games.

Favre, who finished the season ranked 21st among the NFL’s quarterbacks, has left Jets fans wishing that the team had had the guts to stick with long-time quarterback Chad Pennington, who wound up the second best ranked quarterback in  the league.  (Pennington had 19 TD passes against 7 interceptions, while Favre was 22-22.)

Who, besides most of the New York sports media and the blockheads running the New York Jets, could not have seen this coming? And for what — the quick fix of some headlines and a few million dollars in t-shirt and jersey sales?

Counting 2008, Favre has now failed to throw more touchdowns than interceptions only once in the last four seasons; why on earth did the Jets think that a quarterback who was 38 when the season began (and who was  never more than a mediocre big game passer, with a 12-11 lifetime  postseason record) was suddenly going to get better this year?  The Jets were better in 2008 than they were in 2007, winning five more games, but that was largely because of the improvement in the defense and on the offensive line; it’s not a stretch to assume that Pennington, playing behind New York’s better blocking this year, would now have this team in the playoffs. After all, his performance was the major reason Miami went from 1-15 to 11-5.

And guess what?  The nightmare isn’t over. Favre may well decide to come back in 2009, apparently to see if he can drag Mangini’s doomed successor down as well. And once again, the Jets, who seemed to be in a period of rebuilding, are going to be looking at yet another reconstruction in 2010.

Believe us, we take no pleasure in gloating when remind you that we foretold the Jets’ future back on September 9, when we wrote, “If the Jets don’t win something this year, next September they’ll be faced with a 40-year old Favre pulling down $13 million of precious salary-cap money. Where will the Jets’ rebuilding plans be then?  They’ve mortgaged their future on a quarterback in his John McCain years who combines the intellect of L’il Abner with the ego of Matthew McConaughey.”