Kyle Orton and 5 Quarterbacks the Jets May Pursue Not Named Peyton Manning
The problem is Peyton Manning doesn't seem to love the Jets.
Reports have surfaced that Manning has already narrowed his list down to a few teams, and apparently the Jets aren't one of them. Assuming Manning does not come to New York, the Jets will have to look elsewhere for a veteran quarterback.
Mike Tannenbaum has to be careful about who he brings in, though. It has to be someone good enough to challenge Mark Sanchez, but not so good that he takes his job. The Jets still have a lot invested in Sanchez, so ruining his confidence by relegating him to a backup role could make the young quarterback a sunk cost.
With that in mind, here are five veteran quarterbacks the Jets may look at to compete with Mark Sanchez.
When given the chance, Kyle Orton has actually been a solid quarterback. As a rookie in 2005, Orton proved he was capable of managing games and avoiding turnovers so that the Bears could win games with their strong running game and elite defense. In other words, he did exactly what Mark Sanchez hasn't been able to do.
In 2009, the one year when he was his team's undisputed starter, Orton led the Broncos to a 6-0 start and posted a very respectable 86.8 passer rating. Sanchez has never topped 80.
The truth is, we really can't be sure how good Kyle Orton is. Teams have never given him the chance to be their guy for multiple seasons. He's not elite, but neither was Chad Pennington and he led the Jets to the playoffs three times.
That's why I doubt Orton would come to the Jets. It seems like he'd want to play for a team that would give him a more realistic chance to be the starter, not just come in to light a fire under someone else.
If the Jets decide that they really want someone to not only compete with Sanchez, but take his job, Orton would be a viable candidate. Orton is better than Sanchez right now, so if the Jets were actually willing to stick with him it could yield positive results for the team.
Great defenses have won Super Bowls with guys like Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, so why couldn't the Jets win one with Orton?
It's hard to call Henne a veteran. At age 26, he's been in the league for only four years. He won't bring in the veteran know-how of a guy in his 30s, but if the Jets are looking for someone with actual potential then Henne may be their guy.
Statistically Henne actually showed potential in his first two years as a starter. His completion percentages of 60.8 percent and 61.4 percent eclipse any season by Mark Sanchez, and despite lackluster teammates he actually managed to win a few games for the Dolphins.
The problem with Henne is interceptions. He threw 31 between 2009 and 2010. Luckily for Henne, Sanchez has never thrown less than that in any two-season stretch, and that's not including the fact that he led the league in dropped interceptions in 2010.
Another nice tidbit for both Henne and Sanchez is that late bloomers tend to improve largely because of lowering their interception totals. In his breakout year of 2004, Drew Brees' stats across the board remained relatively similar except for the fact that he cut his interceptions by more than half. Alex Smith managed to do the same in San Francisco last year. It is no coincidence that both led their teams to the playoffs for the first time in those years.
What this says is that if young quarterbacks can learn to take care of the ball they have the potential to improve exponentially. Given his completion percentage and lack of dropped interceptions, Henne seems to have more potential to do this.
With Tony Sparano now the offensive coordinator, it is possible that he'll push for the Jets to pursue Henne. Unfortunately for the two of them, Henne doesn't seem like the type of quarterback the Jets want. If, however, they decide they want a younger guy with potential, Henne seems like he'd be a good fit.
Though Manning may be out of the picture, another former Pro Bowl quarterback is not. Donovan McNabb is very much available.
Interest in him has waned since leaving Philadelphia, but his struggles are entirely justifiable. In Washington he had one receiver worthy of playing in the NFL (Santana Moss) and one of the league's worst offensive lines. He also had to learn a new system for the first time in 11 years.
He then moved on to Minnesota, where he played with arguably a worse group of receivers and a rapidly declining offensive line. Despite putting up respectable stats, he was benched in six games for rookie Christian Ponder, who clearly wasn't any better, since the Vikings went 3-13.
You're telling me this guy is done? You try playing quarterback for the Vikings or Redskins—it's not an easy task.
The point is the player who led the Eagles for so many years is still in there. Quarterbacks simply don't drop off like this because of age. Unless there is an underlying reason like injury, McNabb should be able to bounce back on the right team.
McNabb's conditioning has always been questionable, and it has only gotten worse with age. That is the biggest risk in signing him at this point, but if the Jets can get him to put down the pasta he could really help them next year.
McNabb's gregarious personality has always allowed him to endear himself to younger quarterbacks on the roster. Guys like Kevin Kolb and AJ Feeley have sat behind him and gone on to become starters (although in fairness, not very good ones) somewhere else. He is one of the few guys the Jets could bring in to both compete with and mentor Mark Sanchez.
If that's what the Jets are looking for, they may have found their guy.
In 2007, David Garrard had a magical season for the Jaguars. Jacksonville, a team noted for it's ground and pound style (hint hint) made it to the second round of the playoffs behind Maurice Jones-Drew, Fred Taylor and Garrard. Garrard completed 64 percent of his passes that year and threw only three interceptions on his way to a 102.2 passer rating.
In other words, he was the perfect quarterback for a Rex Ryan led Jets team.
Garrard regressed from there, but still posted passer ratings every season that surpass Mark Sanchez's career high. He was released by the Jaguars before the season, but no clear reason was given as to why.
Some have said that he looked awful in training camp, but that seems unlikely to me. He had just come off of an excellent season. How could he regress so quickly?
I don't buy it. I think the far more likely explanation is that coach Jack Del Rio knew his job was on the line and knew that Garrard wasn't a Pro-Bowl quarterback, so he tried to catch lightning in a bottle with Luke McCown the same way he had with Garrard several years earlier. It didn't work, but you can't blame him for trying.
Garrard is accurate and keeps interceptions to a minimum, two things Mark Sanchez has never been. Like with Kyle Orton, Garrard would be a fit only if the Jets decide that they want someone who can actually take Sanchez's job. If the Jaguars had any belief in Garrard's ability as a mentor they would have kept him around to help Blaine Gabbert.
He's not elite, but the Jets have never needed their quarterback to be. If he can light a fire under Mark Sanchez he's done his job.
We don't know if Chad Pennington is still healthy enough to play. In fact, the odds really aren't in his favor.
But if he's healthy enough to suit up, Chad Pennington might be the perfect competitor for Mark Sanchez's job.
Pennington is a wildly respected veteran who would immediately earn the trust of the locker room. He is smart, patient and most of all accurate, three things Mark Sanchez may never be. If we had some sort of magical machine that could combine the two, the Jets would have a Hall of Famer.
Unfortunately such a machine does not exist (too much knowledge), so the best we can hope for is Sanchez learning some of the tricks of the trade from Pennington. Luckily for us, that has already started to happen. Pennington has gone over some of the finer points of Tony Sparano's offense with Sanchez in recent weeks.
I think deep down, despite what we might say, we as fans want to see Mark Sanchez succeed. He's been a lighting rod of controversy, but he has undeniable talent and the charisma to succeed in New York. He just needs to learn how to play quarterback properly. If anyone can teach him how, it's Chad Pennington.