Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Me, Myself, and Favre

Paul: Well, that was certainly a dick move to wait until almost all personnel moves were made - and made under the assumption that he was retired - to talk about possibly coming back.

Noonan: True enough, but we can't let that color our judgment going forward. It may be a dick move, but it presents us with another option, and probably a superior one. Are you telling me that you really prefer Aaron Rodgers to one of the greatest QBs of all time?

Paul: First of all, THIS Brett Favre is not one of the greatest QBs of all time. This Brett Favre was only the 3rd best QB in football last year by DPAR and DVOA, and finished 13th and 12th in those two categories just two years ago. And he's older. We're not comparing Aaron Rodgers to one of the greatest QBs of all time, we're comparing him to a league average-to-good QB who will turn 39 before the snow starts falling in GB.

I grant you that we don't know exactly what we have in Aaron Rodgers, but even if he's just average he won't be that big of a downgrade, and it is quite possible that he will be better than that.

Noonan: Oh come on Mr. I Hate Small Sample Sizes. What Favre's admittedly advanced age gives you is a lot of information, and that information leads you to the idea that he's better than Rodgers, who has been OK in pre-season, and pretty good in one half of professional football. And I might add that he has been injury prone.

Paul: But Favre is not free. If he plays again I believe he becomes their highest paid player again, whereas Rodgers is relatively cheap. Is Favre so much greater than Rodgers that the x-million dollars more, which could be used to add a free agent at a weaker position, is worth it? I think not.

And I don't just have small sample size. The Outsiders, and PECOTA's twin brother KUBIAK like Rogers a lot.

Noonan: KUBIAK is useful, but remember when you drafted Kevin Jones in the first round of your fantasy draft? And this isn't fantasy, this is real life. The Packers are strong at almost every other position, and most truly valuable free agents are already spoken for. Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and even a marginal upgrade is probably worth all of that money. QB is an area where good teams can become great.

Paul: Let me throw a few numbers at you:

1. 2001 54.8, 2023, 7, 8
2002 63.7, 3075, 15, 10
2003 61.0, 3841, 26, 15

2. 2005, 61.3, 3881, 20, 29
2006, 56.0, 3885, 18, 18
2007, 66.5, 4155, 28, 15

The first group are the year, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions of Matt Hasselbeck in his first 3 years as a full time starter. The second group are the same stats for Brett Favre over the last 3 years. I mention this because Aaron Rodgers is in a very similar situation. Hasselbeck was 26 in 2001 and Rodgers will be 25 in 2008. If this were the 26-year-old Hasselbeck instead of the current Aaron Rodgers, what would you do? Sure, his 2001 wasn't great, but he only played in 13 games, and he clearly improved every year after to the extent that it is likely he would have either matched or outplayed Favre in the following year, if we take these three as likely representations of what Favre might do. Frankly, that's being generous given his age.

Noonan: Yeah, maybe. But Rodgers isn't Hasselbeck. Moreover, while everyone is talking about Favre as possible trade bait, why not Rodgers? Remember, we just drafted Brian Brohm. You know, the Brian Brohm who started 3+ years in college and never put up a completion percentage under 63.6 (the two stats which correlate most closely with NFL success)? The Brian Brohm who is definitely a better prospect than was Aaron Rodgers?

Rodgers in a good prospect, but unproven. Favre is a known commodity, and this team is loaded. We can trade Rodgers to shore up the team, make a run with Favre, and if it doesn't pan out, we're still well-prepared with Brohm.

Paul: Ah, but we're assuming again that Favre is the best option this year. Remember, this team was created under the assumption that Favre would be gone. Planning, personnel, and training camp have all been based on this premise.

Moreover, I'm sick of Favre melting down. Most teams have bad days, but most players don't have as bad of days as Favre does. Very few players single-handedly cost their teams as many games as Favre does, and many of his great performances would be wins anyway. He has all those fourth quarter comebacks, but he's absolutely lousy in the last 5 minutes or so. Most of Favre's wins over the last several years have come while protecting leads, while many of his losses involve multiple ridiculous interceptions. He has upside, but some consistency on this team might be nice. Did I write that? Too many JoeChats this week.

Noonan: That's bullshit. Aaron Rodgers will have his bad games too, and plenty of less-than-stellar QBs cost their teams games. Rex Grossman, anyone? Favre is still capable of rattling off three or four good ones, and that is all you need in the playoffs.

Paul: Well, let's talk about the playoffs.

Last year Favre looked really shitty a few times. The first was against the Eagles in a game that they won on special teams. Philly has a good defense. The second was against the Bears in Lambeau, who have a really good defense even when they suck. The third was against the Redskins and Sean Taylor when Brett set the pick record. The next time was that memorable game in Dallas in which Favre sucked, got hurt, and watched Aaron Rodgers rally the team. He then looked shitty against the Bears on the cold day in Soldier, and finally, shitty against the New York Giants.

In short, he did not play well against good defenses, and a few times he melted down completely. The playoffs tend to feature teams with good defenses. How confident are you now?

And trade-wise, you could still get a lot by trading one good Favre year, and still have a pretty good tandem with Rodgers and Brohm, and if need be you can trade one of them later. Favre will be gone soon, whereas Rodgers may torture you for awhile if you trade him.

Noonan
: But will Rodgers even get you there? This team is good, and over 16 games we can be confident that Favre will at least get us into the playoffs. As you well know, once you are in the playoffs, randomness takes over and anything can happen. Rodgers might be OK, sure, but what if he is a disaster? Favre covers your worst case scenario at the very least.

Paul: I'm not so sure. If you put a caretaker QB with this team (and I think Rodgers is better than that) I suspect they still make the playoffs. Favre is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward player. Look at his last 3 years above! What if he throws 29 picks again? And don't tell me it couldn't happen. He has a better team now than in 2005, but Favre can put up 20 picks in 5 bad games the way he plays.

The fact is that we are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty here, and the best way to mitigate against that uncertainty is to go with an easier-to-control Aaron Rodgers and use your cost saving to pick up another corner or offensive lineman.

Noonan: Brett is the most certain thing you have going. If he wants to play, you should let him unless your alternatives are named Brady or Manning.

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