New York Jets' Off-Season Free Agents Have Made Them a Super Bowl Contender

John ParkerCorrespondent INovember 28, 2008

Last year, the Jets were mediocre at best. When they made a huge splash in free agency, many questioned whom they picked.

Many of the players were older veterans who had an understanding for the game. Fans and experts alike raised their eyebrows when the Jets picked Brett Favre, 39, and Alan Faneca, 31, when head coach Eric Mangini was only 39 and their offensive coordinator was 33.

But ever since the free agents have joined the team, they have played well and there's a good chance all these players will make the Pro Bowl.

Brett Favre

Many have called Brett Favre overrated as the years have passed, and especially when he was traded to the Jets. But is this the best thing that has ever happened to them? The Jets are 8-3 and currently tied for the second-best record in the AFC.

The Jets also upset the team with the best record in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans. Many consider the Jets the best team in the conference.

This year, there's been a turnaround. Since acquiring key players last season, the Jets have been on a roll.

The most famous and popular of all of these players is Brett Favre. But does Favre deserve all of the credit? Or any of it? Is he a game manager on a really good Jets team?

Well, his numbers are pretty darn good.

He has a career-high completion percentage of 70.6. He also has the fourth-best passer rating of his career at 94.1. He hasn't been reckless and doesn't try to do too much.

During his entire career with the Packers, he was always asked to do too much. Aging didn't make it easier.

Now he is allowed to rely on his running game and throw quick screen passes. He is a huge factor why the Jets are winning. Even if he isn't the Jets' best player, he is their leader and has had the most impact.

Kris Jenkins

Behind Shaun Rogers, many consider Jenkins to be the best 3-4 nose tackle in the NFL. He has four sacks and 33 tackles, which means he is on pace for the best year of his career. That's not bad when you consider the position he plays.

He is double- or triple-teamed on every play, but his great size and strength has forced triple-teams which has allowed the linebackers to make plays.

Jenkins is on pace for his fourth Pro Bowl.

At 6-foot-4 and 349-pounds, he is the monster in the middle who strikes fear into opposing centers. Imagine what practice against the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Nick Mangold must be like. As good as Shaun Rogers is, there is another defensive player who may be better.

Calvin Pace

Favre was a legend in Green Bay and Jenkins was a defensive anchor in Carolina, but in Arizona, many considered Pace to be a draft bust. In 2003, he was picked in the first round and 18th overall.

In his five seasons with the Cardinals, Pace played in 67 games with 38 starts. He recorded 186 tackles, 14 sacks, and 11 passes deflected.

Keep in mind that's in five seasons, not in one. But in 2006, he set career-highs and sparked enough interest from the Jets to sign as a free agent.

In 2008, Pace showed every bit of the potential he showed when he was in college. Pace is first on the Jets in forced fumbles with three, sacks with five, and third in tackles.

Pace also picked up a fumble and returned it for touchdown in a win over the St. Louis Rams. At 6-foot-4 and 270-pounds, Pace has the potential to be an elite linebacker.

Alan Faneca

The Jets have used many first-round picks on the offensive line, but it hasn't turned into much because the group lacked the veteran experience to guide the younger players.

That changed when Faneca was picked up. The former Steelers lineman was once the highest paid lineman in the league before Jake Long in Miami.

Many Jets fans look at Favre and Thomas Jones on offense as the key, but it wouldn't be possible without Faneca and the guys up front.

What Have We Learned?

Free agency is good for football, and sports in general, because without it these players would be stuck in their old cities. Without free agency, the Jets would still be losers. Many players would be cheated.