Friday, April 3, 2009

What Is The Jets Next Move At Quarterback?

With Jay Cutler now officially off of the Jets radar thanks to Thursday afternoon's trade between the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears, New York is now in the untenable position of having to make like Robert Frost and choose a road less traveled by (or maybe one that has been traveled already).

The Jets have four options for the quarterback position in 2009, and each option carries with it great risk, rather than any great reward.

1) Let quarterbacks Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Eric Ainge duke it out in training camp. This has been the Jets most likely option. They have three very young quarterbacks on the roster, and it is definitely time to see what each of them can bring to the table. If the NFL is one thing, it's a copy cat league. Rex Ryan had first hand experience with untested Joe Flacco's success in Baltimore, and it was well documented about the success of Matt Ryan in Atlanta.

Still, there is no guarantee that either Clemens, or Ratliff, or Ainge could all of a sudden pull a rabbit out of a hat like those two quarterbacks did in 2008. Clemens started eight games in 2007 and was dreadful. In spite of a few glimmers of hope, Clemens looked undersized and over matched. In his career, Clemens has thrown for 1,555 yards, five touchdowns and 11 interceptions. It's a small sample but not a very good one. Plus, if Clemens was the answer, then the Jets would not have been flirting with the idea of acquiring Cutler, nor would they have brought in Brett Favre in 2008.

Ratiff and Ainge are virtual unknowns. Unless they can show something of a spark in preseason games, then neither is likely to be the starter on opening day.

2) Draft Another Rookie Quarterback. Probably the least attractive option, considering there is enough inexperience at quarterback already. Still, the Jets have done their due diligence this off-season, working out both Josh Freeman of Kansas State and Matthew Stanford of Georgia. It was rumored in March that the Jets were very high on Freeman, who stands at 6'6" and has the potential to be like Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger because of his size and mobility. The Jets draft at the 17th position, and Freeman is expected to be on the board, when Gang Green selects.

3) Sign a Veteran at the Last Minute. Jeff Garcia and Byron Leftwich are still unemployed and are looking for work. Garcia is 39 and is a system quarterback, who can only succeed in the West Coast offense. The Jets do not run the West Coast anymore, but they were able to incorporate some of it into their own offense last season with Favre, so who knows?

Leftwich spent 2008 as the understudy to Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. When called upon in mop up duty, Leftwich did okay, throwing for 303 yards and two touchdowns, but he has only a 58 percent completion rating in his career, which is not that good. The Jets need a more accurate quarterback.

Bringing in either Leftwich or Garcia would set the Jets back another year. Eventually the Jets are going to have to bite the bullet and accept a younger quarterback as "THE GUY" to lead the NYJ. That time may be now.

4) Bring Back Brett Favre. The fourth option is to bring back number four. That's right; if the Jets are not convinced with either young quarterback during training camp and are not interested in signing either Garcia or Leftwich, Rex Ryan may have to consider making a special trip to Mississippi to coax Brett Favre back out of retirement ... again. June is coming, and, as we all know, that is when Favre gets the itch to start lacing 'em up again. If Favre's elbow has stopped barking, the Jets should certainly give the old man a call and tell him that all is forgiven for his 22 interceptions, nine of which came down the stretch in 2008.

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