Friday, January 18, 2008

The Quarterback Quiz: New York Jets

And we go on, taking a look at the signal-callers for Gang Green (and I also realized that the name of my blog is the name of a The Rock movie, reversed. Whatever). Let's just say, cloning Namath may one day be a viable option, but it isn't at the moment. Therefore, the Jets have to look elsewhere. And elsewhere.

New York Jets: (4-12): Chad Pennington/Kellen Clemens

By a number of measures, including but not limited to the standings, the Jets just weren't that good this year. Then again, they generally aren't that good, which makes it even more of a surprise when things happen like them getting to the playoffs a few years ago (where the Patriots took it upon themselves to ensure they weren't confused any longer than they had to be). As such, the quarterback situation is uncertain. Pennington was the Comeback Player of the Year in 2006, but led the Jets to a 1-7 start in '07 and was benched in favor of second-year Oregon product Kellen Clemens -- his first start, against the Cowboys, resulted in a fumble and a gift-wrapped touchdown, but Gang Green was 3-4 in his following seven starts. Therefore, as the Jets head into the offseason, they may not know which of the two will be receiving the lion's share of the play-calling, but they seem reasonably content with their options.

Pennington, who was a Rhodes Scholar finalist at Marshall University with a 3.75 GPA, is in his eighth season and among quarterbacks with more than 1,500 pass attempts, his 65.6 completion percentage leads the board. Pennington doesn't have the strongest arm in the world, but makes up for it with knowledge of the game, pocket awareness, accuracy, and selection -- then again, this being the Jets, bad hoodoo happens anyway. His numbers remained respectable this year -- 10 TDs against 9 INT, 1,765 yards, and an 86.1 rating -- but the bad start was the reason that the Jets decided to see what could happen with the 49th-overall pick, Clemens, running the offense instead.

Clemens had a decent but not strong debut. He threw twice as many picks as TDs -- 10 to 5, which he'll want to reverse -- with 1,529 yards and a 60.1 passer rating in 10 games, 8 of which were starts. He enjoyed a stellar collegiate career in Oregon, especially in 2005, finishing with 19 TD, 4 INT, 2,406 yards, and a whopping 152.87 QB rating. But as every prospect learns, it's a bigger jump than it looks from the NCAA to the NFL, and he'll need to continue to grow and mature.

Still, no matter whether #10 or #11 is taking the snaps for the Jets, they need to find a way to jump-start a dolorous offense -- the team ranked 25th in points scored with 16.8 averaged a game, 26th in yards with an average of 294.7, 25th in pass yards with 188.4, and a slightly better 19th in rushing with 106.3. It seems as if bad luck is generally the case for the Jets, but they seem to be satisfied with their QB options, and work on improving the rest of the team come April, particularly the D. They could use a pass rusher and a stronger offensive tackle and guard -- they recorded only 29 sacks while letting the opponent get to the QB 53 times. If they're protected more securely in the pocket, either Pennington or Clemens, whichever one wins the job, will have a chance at looking better, and helping out the hapless in a division that's weak-sauce aside from the heavyweight Patriots.

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