NY Jets: Team must develop a quarterback for the future
The NY Jets will never have major success in the NFL until they develop a franchise quarterback for the future.
I have been a Jet fan from when it all started back in the day in the broken down Polo Grounds when the New York Titans took the field to represent NYC in the old American Football League. As such, I have seen a ton of quarterbacks come and go over the years. Out of curiosity, I looked up the number of players that have started at least one game for the franchise in its history and found that number to be 41!
The Jets have been playing professional football in NYC for 55 years now. They have had their share of successes over the years and as we all know as Jet fans, they’ve had more than their share of disappointments as well. I can’t help but to think that 41 different starters in just 55 years might have something to do with that fact!
I dug further trying to wrap my head around those numbers and what I found is rather mind blowing. Of the 41 starters in Jet history, only 15 started games in two or more seasons. If you are following the math, that makes 26 players that were one and done at the position for the Jets.
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In 55 years of football, the Jets have only had five quarterbacks that had a tenure of five years or more with the team: Chad Pennington (6 yrs), Vinny Testaverde (7 yrs), Ken O’Brien (8 yrs), Richard Todd (5 yrs) and of course Joe Namath (12 yrs).
Behind them the longest tenured Jet quarterback was Mark Sanchez, with four years of service. Chad Pennington and Vinny Testaverde are the only two quarterbacks to play for five years or more since 1998.
Let’s face it folks, these aren’t numbers that will get you excited about the quarterback position for this franchise. Which leads to me to what I have been saying about the Jets for what seems like a very, very long time: “It is time the Jets took the time to develop a quarterback!” I feel like a broken record when I get on this discussion as I’ve had it with so many fans over the years I couldn’t possibly remember them all. The idea of actually developing a young quarterback is long overdue in NYC!
All we have to do is look at recent history to nail this point down. In the nineties, the Jets saw Ken O’Brien finish up his career (90-93), Browning Nagle (1992), Boomer Esiason (1992-93), Boomer Esiason/Jack Trudeau (1994), Esiason/Bubby Brister (1995), Frank Reich/Neil O’Donnell/Glenn Foley (1996), Neil O’Donnell/Glenn Foley (1997), Testaverde/Foley (1998), Ray Lucas/Rick Mirer/Testaverde (1999). Eleven separate quarterbacks started at least one game for the Jets in the decade.
Moving onto more recent times, since 2000, Jet fans have watched Testarverde (2000-2001), Pennington/Testaverde (2002, 2003), Pennington/Quincy Carter (2004), Brooks Bollinger/Testaverde/Pennington (2005), Pennington (2006), Pennington/Kellen Clemens (2007), Brett Favre (2008), Mark Sanchez/Kellen Clemens (2009) Sanchez (2010-2011), Sanchez/Greg McElroy (2012), Geno Smith (2013), Geno Smith/Michael Vick (2014) and finally Ryan Fitzpatrick (2015). Once agai,n eleven different quarterbacks have started in this decade.
Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Now in all fairness, a few of those players only started a couple of games due to injury, but the numbers are still mind blowing from where I sit. There have been far too many quarterbacks starting for this team in the past 25 years! The time is now to surrender the “win now” philosophy and finally develop somebody at the position!
I wrote an article a short while ago on the Jets’ quarterback position and have discussed it with more than a few close friends in recent days. Many of them have agreed with the premise of developing a young quarterback but just as many have told me that the “Jets are built to win now and they must bring in a veteran to get it done.”
For myself, I’ve seen enough of the “win now” philosophy. If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard that philosophy over the decades, I probably could have a nice meal at Tavern On The Green. This philosophy has gone on for so long in the franchise that it has become part of the Jet fan base’s vocabulary! I heard it all season long this year and I continue to hear it concerning the 2016 Jets and to be frank, I’m sick and tired of hearing it.
As I see it, the timing is ripe for the Jets to start developing a quarterback to carry this franchise into the future with sustainable success. It may not be the most popular plan, but fans are going to have to be patient to get it done. So, with no further delay, I’ll lay at what I’d like to see the Jets do at the position this year to aid them in developing a quarterback for the future.
First, re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick or another similar veteran on the cheap with little to no guarantees. Allow that veteran to come into camp and compete with Smith for the starting job. Whomever wins the competition is your starter in 2016. This does two things, ensure competition for Smith and the Jets get one last look at him to see if he’s worth keeping around when his contract is up.
Next, the Jets have to find a developmental talent in the 2016 NFL Draft, this year’s draft has plenty of candidates and they could likely grab a kid with upside in the middle rounds. As I said in my last article on the subject, I’d like to see them make a push for Christian Hackenberg, but there are plenty of other options. General manager Mike Maccagnan can have his pick but it needs to be a guy that has the upside to develop into a starter. That choice joins Bryce Petty on the bench for 2016.
Nov 22, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) warms up prior to a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Houston won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
If Smith can manage to win the starting competition in camp this year, the Jets can simply cut the veteran and allow Petty to back up Smith. Reports of Petty’s development behind the scenes have been positive, so trust him as a backup in 2016. Should the veteran win the starting job in 2016, then Smith can be shopped or if you prefer, simply cut.
Despite the winner in 2016, the Jets would then have a young Petty and a rookie prospect to push each other as the number two and a number three quarterbacks in 2016. By the end of the 2016 season, Petty will have two full camps, two seasons sitting and watching and two years under Jets’ quarterback coach Kevin Patullo. The newest Jet addition at the position will have a year in camp and a year watching from the bench.
If whomever starts in 2016 doesn’t work out, the Jets would then have a decent quarterback competition between two young arms in 2017. But think about it for a moment, if Smith were to win the job and finally silence his critics, the Jets would be in an envious position in the NFL. They would have a proven Smith as their starter, a developed and ready Petty on the bench and a developing third string quarterback.
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If luck rolls the Jets way, following this plan could give the Jets three potential starters by the end of 2016. Of course, it’s not a guarantee that all three would develop but at the very least they should be able to find one quarterback that can lead this franchise into the future.
Just my take of course. Now I’d like to hear yours. Am I nuts to want to go this route? Do you have a solution that I am overlooking? Is there a player you think the Jets must absolutely bring in at quarterback? We here at The Jet Press want to hear about it! Please leave us a comment below and Let’s Talk Jet Football!!