Playing “What If?” With Rex Ryan and Brett Favre

The Vikings and Jets play each other Monday Night, and Rex Ryan made a few tails wag this week when he said he would have tried to get Favre to play for the Jets for another year had they not been able to trade for Mark Sanchez: 

"There would have been some major recruiting done," Ryan said of Favre, who now quarterbacks the Minnesota Vikings (1-2), who will be visiting the Jets on Monday. "I can say that absolutely. And, maybe no one knows it or whatever, but I can promise you that's how I was feeling."

There’s no doubt that the Jets are better off in the long term now that they have Sanchez in the fold, but Ryan’s comments allow us fans to do that thing where we try and imagine precisely an alternate universe where Favre was the Jets QB in 2009. You already know Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC Title Game last season (as Favre led the Vikings to the NFC Title Game). Would the Jets have gone further with Favre in the fold, presumably playing as well as he played for Minnesota?

This is where it gets fun. Check out some of the Jets games last season. I see at least two close games the Jets lost that were a direct result of Sanchez committing multiple turnovers: Week 6 versus Buffalo (five picks in a 16-13 loss), and Week 15 against the Falcons (three picks in a 10-7 loss). Let’s assume Favre would have won those games (again, assuming you get the 2009 Favre, and not the 2010 Edsel model). Those two extra wins, as a minimum hypothetical, would have given the Jets the AFC East title.

But then you look at the standings that year, and it’s not clear that division title would have actually HELPED New York. Instead of going to an overachieving Cincy team to open the Wild Card round, they would have hosted New England, which I would argue might have been more difficult, even knowing how badly the Pats played against the Ravens in that round. Had they won that game, they would have gone to San Diego to play the Chargers, the same circumstance as last year, when they won. Then they would have gone to Indy to play the Colts.

Would Favre have been able to get the Jets past the Colts? No. Look at his numbers from the NFC Title game. A worse passer rating than Sanchez against Indy. More picks. There’s nothing that suggests the Jets would have won a title with Favre last year had they kept him around. And who knows if he’d have played as well down the stretch without the comforts of a Dome.

For all his histrionics, both the Packers and the Jets have brighter futures now thanks to getting rid of Favre and moving on with their lives. And a year from now, both teams will probably look on with grins as the Vikings begin the very long, tortured process of trying to replace him.

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