To hear the critics and some fans talk one would think the quarterback position for the New York Jets is the worst in the enitre National Football League. Hardly. The Jets have a young gun who started a whopping 8 games last year at the helm of a 4-12 team with visions of golf courses dancing in their heads by October 1. That is 8 games for his career so far. Then you have injury riddled vet Chad Pennington. All of 31 years old. Maybe, just maybe, getting ready to be the best back-up quarterback in the league. This is not a disastrous duo. No, they are not the Manning’s but really aren’t we all sick and tired of those family commercials by now? Just once, don’t you want to see that giant Jason Taylor crashing down that hallway crush Peyton Manning the way you’d just once love to see Wile E. Coyote blow the Road Runner into smithereens?
Well the battle has begun for the starting QB gig and I have to say if Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl why not a Kellen Clemens? A Chad Pennington? Clearly not the strength of the team but if both play well in camp and one clearly edges out the other I feel good going into the season with either…provided the team rallies around them and plays better as a whole. Neither player will put a team on his back and carry them through the season and the playoffs but both can offer different assets. The young strong armed Clemens can open up the offense. The crafty Pennington can keep the Jets competitive and limit the mistakes. So doomsayers beware, this duo may surprise you. After all, I think there are at least 10-12 teams in the NFL with as bad or worse players not named Manning who are manning the position.
The way you make Clemens or Pennington look a heck of a lot better? Build a top 5 defense. The Jets might be on the right track. In fact they may just be one good cornerback away. Consider that before Eric Mangini arrived we had maybe one impact defensive player: Jonathan Vilma. Once the 3-4 defense was installed we had zero impact defensive players. In the two years since we can now count David Harris, Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, Kris Jenkins, Calvin Pace, and Vernon Gholston as one of the best and brightest defensive cores in the league. David Harris is going to break out according to USAToday. If you couple that with the fact that the team has had two years to get comfortable in the 3-4 and all the above players should make these players better: Shawn Ellis, Bryan Thomas, Kenyon Coleman, Justin Miller, and Eric Barton. I think with some aggressive play calling the Jets defense can be the unit that wins games and is the strength of this team.
Even John Clayton at ESPN, who you would think isn’t even aware the Jets are in the league, thinks they have improved. It takes spending $140 million to get on his radar but we have arrived. Hopefully, we still fly under the radar of the teams on our schedule who may be ticking off a win against the Same Ole Jets.