August 27, 2008
SI's 2008 NFL Scouting Reports
New York Jets
Projected Finish: 2nd in AFC East
Mangini says he'll tailor his offense to Favre's talents.
John Iacono/SI
2008 Schedule

Brett Favre is the most notable of several newcomers, but the one to keep an eye on is linebacker Calvin Pace.

Tannenbaum's belief in developing players within the Jets' system mirrors hisown ascent," reads the bio of Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum in thisyear's team media guide. Times change. Philosophies, too ... unlessyou figure that Brett Favre and a few tons of imported muscle along theoffensive and defensive lines pass for development within the Jets' system.

For many years the club was known to avoid trades and free-agent pickups.("Taking on other people's problems," Weeb Ewbank, their Super Bowl III coach,called it.) Starting in 1970, the first year the AFC sent players to the ProBowl, the only Jets who made that trip, for 23 years, were their own draftchoices.

Now the big money has gone to outsiders.

First the Jets traded for Kris Jenkins, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle late ofthe Panthers, and plugged him in at nosetackle. Big name, new position. "Staystout, let 'em come. I should be able to handle it," Jenkins says.Realistically, they're counting on him for 30 snaps a game.

They got rid of two O-line starters from last year and filled their hand withleft guard Alan Faneca, a perennial Pro Bowl player who cost the team$21 million in guaranteed funds, and right tackle Damien Woody,$11 million guaranteed, who made the Pro Bowl as a 25-year-old center sixyears ago. Since then he has bounced around, from the Patriots to the Lions andnow to the Jets, from center to right guard to right tackle.

Calvin Pace, a former Cardinals outside linebacker, also represents a changeof direction, in that he's fairly young at 27, and versatile. Think of AdaliusThomas heading to the Patriots last year, and you've got an idea of Pace'sprojected role. New York brought in 36-year-old fullback Tony Richardson, a yearyounger than coach Eric Mangini, and tight end Bubba Franks, Favre's 30-year-oldgoal-line receiver at Green Bay.

And then kaboom! The foreign legion had a leader. Favre's move has beenwell-documented and will continue to be so until he finally packs it in. It hasbeen a scene all right: the overloaded bleachers at practice, the cheering (nobooing yet), the afternoon he ran a punishment lap because he fumbled a snap,his teammates' reaction -- "He's just like one of us."

But what exactly do we have before us when we examine this team thattraditionally relied on home cooking and now is dining out every night? Jenkinsand Woody? Sturdy people, but on the downside of their careers. Faneca? At 30 afew cracks were starting to show last season with the Steelers. Not aslight-footed as he used to be but still a big upgrade for the Jets at theposition. Richardson and Franks? Aging veterans.

Pace? Ah, that's the pickup old-timers in the know nod their heads and winkat. Might be the best of the bunch. On the rise, active, aggressive. Can steertight ends out of their routes, rush from the edge. Watch this guy.

And now Favre. When the Jets got rid of Chad Pennington, they were unloadingthe most accurate passer in NFL history. But he couldn't zip the ball65 yards on a line, as Favre did to tumultuous cheers at an Aug. 10practice. Pennington's a terrific guy, but he's coming off a bad ankle in '07and shoulder surgery before that. Favre's never missed a start.

The question is, how difficult will it be for Favre to catch on to the Jets'system, a version of the West Coast attack. "It's not etched in stone," Manginisays of his offense. "It will be tailored to his talents."

Are we seeing here a set of building blocks for the future, or a one-year fixfor the Jets, two at the most? This might not be the definitive year to findout. The schedule is soft, with only five games against teams that had winningrecords in 2007. New York will be better than last year's 4-12. A 10-6 playoffyear is not far-fetched. But after that, whoknows? -- Paul Zimmerman


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