Dr Z
Monday October 20th, 2008

There is a real deception going on right now. It comes dressed up in a showy, color brochure that bears the heading, "The New York Jets Coaches Club Seat Auction, Oct.19-27, 2008," and was mailed to the club's season-ticket holders. It describes the auctioning off of 2,000 prime seats.

"Not just a seat, it's an exclusive experience unlike any other," the brochure says. You start with a low bid of $5,000 per seat, and after that, the sky's the limit. Maybe AIG will think about bidding on a bunch for its corporate executives.

Everybody's getting together to help make this a financial success. New York area readers might have seen Donald Trump pitching in as well, with that TV add showing him as a rear view look-alike for Joe Namath, with the fur coat, standing majestically in the tunnel leading to the stadium. But the man the Jets hoped would be the biggest salesman of all for this heist -- excuse me, for this auction -- hasn't exactly done his part.

Brett Favre was supposed to sell the most premium tickets of all. Not that he'd still be around in 2010, when the new seats would be ready for occupancy, but his was the face that was supposed to represent the new, aggressive, forward-thinking Jets. New, Hall of Fame quarterback to put us over the top. Spare no expense in bringing our fans the finest in entertainment. Per aspera ad astra, "reach for the stars."

There's only one problem. Favre came with the reputation as strongest arm in the league, a serious long-baller who would turn out the lights with his rockets. So what did they do? They built a cage around him. He's been keeping things buttoned up, going the dinky dunk safety-first route of the faint of heart quarterbacks he used to sneer at once upon a time.

Some of it might be his own mentality, some of it the game plan which is terrified of the turnover. But it's like taking a thoroughbred and hitching it to a wagon.

Going into Sunday's debacle against the Raiders, Favre was carrying a 71.3 completion average, highest in the league, highest of his career. It's a number that says, "What, me, take a chance? You've got to be kidding."

The other side of the coin is his yards per completion figure is sitting at 9.9, after that anemic outing at Oakland. This is a checkdown number, a play-it-safe figure. It's usually an indication of which quarterbacks like to go downfield, or at least which ones have coaches who aren't afraid of turning them loose. Never in Favre's 17-year career has it been this low. Only four quarterbacks in the NFL right now -- Carson Palmer, Brian Griese, Matt Cassel and Ryan Fitzpatrick -- are in the nine-yard range. Guys like Tony Romo and Philip Rivers are in the 13-yard range. Chad Pennington, whom Favre replaced, whose arm supposedly was too weak to pose a serious downfield threat, is averaging almost two yards more than Favre, 11.8 to 9.9.

Favre had three shots at the Raiders in overtime Sunday, three series in which to move his team into field-goal range. The first one started with Thomas Jones running the ball twice for five yards. It ended with a sack. The second began with two Jones runs for six yards, followed by an incompletion. The third started with three runs for 15 yards, followed by an incompletion and a Favre scramble and fumble out of bounds. They never cleared their own territory. Three series, three punts. Fourteen plays, eight runs, one of four passes completed for 17 yards, a scramble and a sack.

In another context you might say, OK, it was the culmination of a brutal game, a slugfest. Well, it was a tough game all right, but the Raiders were exhausted at this point. And don't forget, that was Favre who had three cracks at them. Where was he? What is this club thinking of?

Oh, I can hear the excuses, the most common being the receivers. But he's got a big league pair of wideouts in Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Rookie Dustin Keller is an athletic tight end drafted for his ability to stretch the field. Leon Washington is a speedy little running back who has broken many long ones in his career. And yet the offense creaks along with Favre bearing the look of some rookie told to keep things short and sensible.

He still has eight interceptions this season. Only poor J.T. O'Sullivan with the struggling 49ers has thrown more. And yet the memory lingers on, the gunslinger, the lights out QB who will bring such wonders to this team and its fans.

Especially those who send their bids to the heavens, to enjoy the premium seats, to join in their "exclusive experience unlike any other."

What a con job.

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