FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Putting the four words in the same sentence seems strange, maybe even absurd.
Brett Favre, game manager.
"That hasn't been his forte throughout the years," safety Kerry Rhodes said yesterday with a laugh.
But recently it has been, and Favre even joked about it with CBS' Phil Simms before last Sunday's 26-17 victory at Buffalo. Favre rarely looked downfield in the game - and he hasn't done that all that much in the last several weeks - going 19-for-28 for 201 yards with one interception. That came on the one semi-deep ball he did attempt, which the Bills' Jabari Greer picked and returned for a touchdown.
"I joked with Phil Simms the day before about managing the game," Favre said. "I kind of joked, I said I never really believed in that. I think you play the game. Whatever's asked of you, you do. I don't manage. But I managed the game the other day, as bad as I hate to say that."
Favre smiled when he said the last part, though he was serious. "I've got no problems doing whatever it takes to win, believe me," he said.
Interim Rams coach Jim Haslett was the Saints' coach from 2000-2005 and saw plenty of Favre in the NFC. Haslett said he hasn't noticed much different about Favre.
"I'm kind of biased on him," Haslett said yesterday during a conference call with the New York media. "He's a guy that if people ask me, if you ever started a football team with anybody that ever played the game, who would it be? I would say Brett Favre. To me he's the greatest quarterback that's ever played the game. If he isn't the greatest, at least he's the most competitive. I love the guy."
Haslett disagreed with the notion Favre can't throw the deep ball as well anymore, but said he would welcome a slew of short throws to check-down receivers Sunday.
"I hope he keeps doing that," Haslett said. "He can make all the throws. He's unbelievable. The guy still has it."
He just hasn't shown all of "it" recently, at least in terms of what makes Favre Favre. Of course, Favre, who again stressed his arm isn't bothering him, threw seven interceptions in his previous three games. Game plans have been inconsistent, from too much running against the Raiders to not enough against the Chiefs.
"No doubt we're still trying to lock in on our identity and what we're trying to do," Favre said. "The one thing that is obvious is what's in front of us, what we have to do to get it."
Meaning, game manager or not, the Jets are 5-3 and in a three-way tie for first in the AFC East. "It's a good position," Favre said. "It obviously is fun for everyone. There are a lot of teams that are out of it at this point. There's no fun in that."
And Favre, who owns most of the league's career passing records, insisted the only fun he derives from the game now is winning.
"I tell people this all the time," Favre said. "At this stage in my career, there's not one thing left out there for me to achieve, not one thing that I set as far as goals, other than if I'm going to come here and play for the Jets, to win here. That's it."
Beating the Bills changed how people look at these Jets, and, by extension, Favre.
"This team is tied for first place," he said. "That's not too shabby. Could be better. I could be better. But in my 17 years of playing, 17 and a half, I could have always been a little better. I'm always trying to achieve being perfect. That's never gonna happen. I don't know if anyone's ever been completely perfect, but I'm still trying to achieve it."