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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Brett Favre's Learning Curve

There are several issues to discuss with respect to the upcoming game against the Cardinals, but really the one issue that most Jet fans are wondering about is Brett Favre's acclimation with the playbook, or the complete absence of it. As I've said before, whereas great baseball teams have won the whole shebang with either mediocre pitching or mediocre hitting, it's absurd to think of a winning football team without a superlative signal caller. Even the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, at the very least, had Trent Dilfer. Then they immediately ditched him, attempting to prove ever since that they don't need any more than a cardboard cutout or an wounded man at the position. They have been wrong.

If you listened to the prognosticators all summer, the Jets were right. They picked a known commodity at quarterback whose only known wound was to his ego. All the experienced Jets fans out there felt wary, but we were told that such wariness is just typical of our pessimistic nature. More of us reacted with the temporarily restorative adrenaline that a terminally ill patient feels when a big name star visits him in the hospital. Regardless of our first response, we all figured that something had to come of a player as great as Brett Favre. As far as I recall, a person was an expert in his field after years of experience similar to Favre's in duration. If I got a job at a different high school teaching English, I know I would be able to bring my experience to bear upon the new task. I've been teaching mostly blue collar to barely middle class kids for nine years, but if someday I started teaching upper middle class, entirely college bound adolescents, I know I would have to make some serious adjustments to the new environment. I'd have to learn to cope with intrusive parents, constant online classrooms and students who believe that I am their butler. Still, kids are kids. Theoretically, though, a classroom is a classroom, and a kid with an iPhone is still a kid. I guess I would know what to do.

One wonders, though. How long does it take to make adjustments to a new assignment? In America, what you do is who you are. So how long does it take to be at home in a new home? Some people said that Brett Favre was temporarily flummoxed by the playbook, some suggest that the problem runs deeper than that. What I could not believe was that Ron Jaworski suggested during the Jets' loss on MNF that any quarterback needs at least six to seven years to adjust to a new system, regardless of experience. Six to seven years. Six. To. Seven. Years.

Which is absurd. Not even in the hottest pitch of my most horrid nightmare fever dreams would I believe that a quarterback would need six to seven years of experience in one system before being thought of as competent. I mean, I know that Matt Ryan is an anomaly. Vince Young has learned the pain of inconsistent success at the position. Maybe Jay Cutler is the next great quarterback ever, but most likely he will go the way of Jake Plummer. I certainly hope not. Such things were once said of John Elway: "He'll go the way of Art Schlichter, even without all the gambling problems."

Face it, though - we're not training any of these people to become Jesuits or bone surgeons. It took my wife a total of eight years to get both her Master's and PhD in English. Though discerning among five or six audibles is more challenging than the mind work Johnny Unitas did on the field after flinging his sideline parka at Don McCafferty, no one expects any these folks to be able to know how to manage a complicated border dispute in the Middle East. Without any deep threats, though, Brett Favre will be able to do just so much, even when he gets his honorary doctorate for mastering Brian Schottenheimer's overly complex, underachieving offense. Via cum dois, Brett. Better yet, et in arcadia ego.

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