No, not the Clemens that is still grabbing headlines for the giant “conspiracy” theory levied against him by people with very little to gain. Instead we should be rooting for the kid from Burns, Oregon to be the opening day starter. Kellen Clemens deserves his chance, while Mark Sanchez deserves a chance to develop.
Let’s take a step back and look at this thing logically. This is not the Big Ben situation, the Joe Flacco situation, the Matt Ryan situation, the Carson Palmer situation, nor the Phillip Rivers situation. This is the Mark Sanchez situation and needs to be handled as such. While Sanchez is a great talent and has shown the poise and leadership that we all hope will ultimately lead him to greatness, every logical thought points to letting him develop while learning the offense and competing to get better. Many people thought he improved all year last year and has the potential to continue that growth at this level. Playing in NY, there is a far greater expectation for results now and to throw him to the wolves could damage that progress.
Clemens, like his predecessor Chad Pennington, has been dealt a raw deal in NY. Neither QB had an offensive line for most of their time here. Pennington lead the Jets to the playoffs in every year he finished the year upright and subsequently was ran out of town. Clemens has a small body of work, all in a season where the offensive line looked like they should’ve been playing for pop warner. Is it a coincidence that Thomas Jones couldn’t run the ball that year? Is it a miracle that with a few O-Line additions, a full back, plus another year under the belt of our young guys he was able to lead the conference in rushing (despite Brett Favre attempting to pad his INT stats)? Clemens was also without any viable weapon. Remember, Coles and Cotchery both missed time due to injury, so Clemens was on an island as a rookie with no help… raw deal folks!
Let’s not forget why the Jets drafted Clemens originally. He was a beast at Oregon, posting amazing numbers. He broke Dan Fout’s school record as a sophmore for passing TD’s, improved in his junior year, and posted 19 TD’s, 4 picks and a ridiculous 152.87 passer rating in an injury shortened senior season. OK, granted that was against Pac-10 defenses… including USC… somewhat like Mark Sanchez, except without playing against USC.
I’m not going to go as far as to say Clemens will be a better QB for the Jets. I think Sanchez has all the intangibles to be a leader for this team and I just want what is best for him and Gang Green. Clemens has the experience in the offense and should give the Jets the best chance to win now. While I think Sanchez will have to get in there and take his lumps eventually, if we’ve learned anything from our recent past it’s to not overlook the talent we have in house. The schedule is brutal this year, especially early as the Jets head to Houston, then home for New England and Tennessee, and back on the road to New Orleans and Miami. All these teams will throw the kitchen sink at a rookie QB. If the Jets want a chance this year, Clemens is the answer… at least early on.