Trade for Favre doesn't make sense for Bucs

Brett Favre’s interception rate might make him a poor fit with the Bucs.

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Brett Favre’s interception rate might make him a poor fit with the Bucs.

The legend is out there, supposedly searching for a home. This quarterback of storybook finishes may have one more left to be written.

So how, if you are the Buccaneers, do you not go after Brett Favre? How do you not stack up your draft picks and whip out your checkbook?

Perhaps by realizing what you already have, and ignoring this teenybopper crush.

Oh, the idea of Favre in Tampa Bay is tempting, I'm sure. Favre is everybody's idea of a good-time player, and nobody throws quarterback parties quite like Jon Gruden.

But once you get past the fantasy and delve into the reality, I'm just not sure he makes sense here.

Look, Favre is a better quarterback than Jeff Garcia. Always has been, always will be. Favre will retire as an all-time great quarterback, and Garcia will retire as a sometimes good quarterback.

The question, however, is whether Favre is a better quarterback than Garcia for the 2008 Buccaneers.

Forget the cost in trade. And forget the price in salary. Just as a switch in quarterbacks, it's worth asking whether this would be the wisest move Tampa Bay could make in early August.

Pick almost any team and I would argue it would be better off with Brett Favre, even at 38, as its quarterback. Tampa Bay is one of the few teams that would make me pause.

The reason is the fit. Like Warren Sapp in spandex, it just doesn't seem the best way to go.

For more than a dozen years, the Bucs have been a team that looks best on defense. The offense is the accent lamp in the room. And for a team that depends on defense to win games, the worst thing an offense can do is get in the way with turnovers.

Around here, the formula has been pretty simple, and inarguable. Since the arrival of Monte Kiffin, whenever the Bucs offense has had one interception per game or less, the team has had a winning record. And whenever the average has gone over 1.0, the Bucs have had a losing record.

So, okay, Favre is no Bruce Gradkowski, but you have to admit the man is not accustomed to playing it safe. The Packers have won, more often than not, with offense. They have won with Favre laughing hard, throwing long and treating his defense like the Pips. So it's hard to imagine, at this point in his career, Favre will easily adjust to the concept of 13-10 games.

Yes, Favre could make Tampa Bay's offense better, but he would not take care of the ball as well as Garcia. That tradeoff is where things get sticky.

How many more points would Favre have to produce to make the turnovers acceptable? And could he provide that many points with the supporting cast he would have in Tampa Bay's offensive huddle?

And it's not like the Bucs would have time to remake the roster in Favre's image. This is not 1992 when the Falcons traded a 22-year-old Favre to Green Bay, and the Packers knew they had their quarterback for the future. This time, Favre is almost 39 and probably has one season left. Maybe two.

Which means, for a move such as this to be a success, the Bucs would have to play deep into January.

Tampa Bay is supposedly one of the logical landing spots for Favre because Gruden's playbook is somewhat similar to what the Packers have been running since the Mike Holm-gren days.

So, I suppose, Favre and Garcia may speak the same language, but it's with entirely different accents.

Garcia is one of the NFL's best at ball-control offense. He may not hit as many long balls, but he doesn't strike out much, either.

Favre, on the other hand, is the league's wild child. He has never seen a deep route that he didn't think he could complete, and he has never seen a double team he couldn't beat. It's no coincidence Favre has led the league in touchdown passes and interceptions on multiple occasions.

On top of all that, there is the timing issue. The regular-season opener is 32 days away, and Favre is not yet in town. That gives him, at best, four weeks to get in shape and learn Gruden's terminology.

As great as Favre has been as a quarterback, his strong point is not his preparation. We're not talking Peyton Manning studying video and scripting plays.

Favre has been an instinctive quarterback. A fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants guy. Gruden likes to joke that he is not a deep thinker, but the Bucs coach is Plato compared to Favre.

In a way, that's why this entire saga grew so complicated. Favre decided he still wanted to play football and started telling people about it 10 minutes later. From the way this thing has played out, it does not appear he considered the many ramifications.

As far as that goes, the Bucs could also be accused of having a nasty case of myopia. If it would be a gamble to bring Favre in, at this point it's also a gamble being in the middle of the rumor mill.

How is Garcia supposed to feel this morning? Hurt? Angry? Betrayed? Wondering whether Chris Simms will let him stick an extra needle in his Jon Gruden voodoo doll?

Until now, Garcia was ticked off because he thought the Bucs were cheap. Should he feel better now that he realizes being cheap may not be their worst quality?

In the end, chasing Brett Favre would be a bold move.

For Tampa Bay, I'm not sure it is the right move.

John Romano can be reached at romano@sptimes.com.

Trade for Favre doesn't make sense for Bucs 08/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 11, 2008 3:12pm]

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