Last season, then-second-year quarterback Kellen Clemens started eight games and he performed like you might expect an inexperienced 24-year-old might. Which is to say, glimpses of potential were sandwiched around long stretches of inconsistency.
Still, it was all part of the plan to phase out Chad Pennington, the team's first-round pick back in 2000; he had lost is job midway through the season, and his twice-surgically repaired shoulder seemed incapable of handling the rigors of December football in Giants Stadium.
So when the organization had a chance to land Brett Favre this summer, they jumped. The Packers will either get a second or third-round pick in return, based on whether the Jets make it to the postseason. Meanwhile, Pennington was released and promptly signed by the Miami Dolphins, who have been in search of a quarterback since Dan Marino retired almost a decade ago.
The Packers and Dolphins are 4-4, good for second in their respective divisions, and the Jets are in a three-way tie for first. But of the three, Miami seems to have gotten the most return on their investment. Because Green Bay won't receive compensation until this spring, we can rule them out for now. And although the Jets have already eclipsed last year's win total in just eight games this season, it hasn't had much to do with the improved quarterback play. According to Football Outsiders, Favre ranks 24th among NFL QBs in terms of efficiency, which puts him just behing Dan Orlovsky, Sage Rosenfels and Joe Flacco. Hardly Hall of Fame company.
On the upside, Favre's been more efficient than Clemens was a year ago (he ranked 41st in QB efficiency), but again, that's not the primary reason why the Jets have been more successful.
As for Pennington, he's currently the sixth-most efficient quarterback in the league ahead of Peyton and Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers, to name a few. Obviously, like Favre, he's not solely responsible for Miami's turnaround -- re-establishing the running game and discovering a defense have certainly helped -- but if he's playing better than Favre, haven't the Jets basically wasted a second- or third-round pick? Not to mention, there's no guarantee Favre doesn't really retire after the season.
Okay, we all know that's not happening -- he's never retiring -- but I still stand by my first point.