Mark Sanchez Still Out: Why the New York Jets Need To Hope Their QB Is Okay

Mike GurnisContributor IDecember 6, 2009

TORONTO - DECEMBER 3: Kellen Clemens #11 of the New York Jets rolls out to pass against the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre on December 3, 2009 in Toronto, Canada. The Jets won 19-16.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Okay, I'll admit it.

Two weeks ago, during Mark Sanchez's dreadful performance against the Patriots, where he threw four interceptions in a 31-14 Jets loss, I was calling for Sanchez to be benched. And I'm sure I wasn't the only one sounding the alarm.

Sanchez clearly looked like he needed some time off, just to get his head clear. After all, the pressure was getting to him so much that he was reading prepared statements during his press conference after a loss.

Sanchez then played a decent game against Carolina, followed by a strong performance against Buffalo. That is, until he controversially did not slide on a play to pick up a first down, injuring his knee. He did not return to the game.

Enter Kellen Clemens, a four-year pro with the Jets, who basically is about as much of a failure at the quarterback position as there is in the NFL.

As a rookie, he lost a four-way quarterback competition in 2006 as a rookie to Chad Pennington. Then, in 2007, the Jets turned to Clemens after Pennington proved ineffective. Clemens posted a 3-5 record, throwing 10 picks against only five touchdowns. It's safe to say that Clemens was at best mediocre, but a weak offensive line was also blamed for not consistently giving him enough time to make throws.

Clemens had the ultimate opportunity to take the starting job by the reins this preseason, going up against the inexperienced Sanchez in training camp. Once again, Clemens couldn't even beat out a rookie, meaning Clemens should probably consider a new profession, because being an NFL quarterback just isn't meant to be for him.

So when Clemens was called upon to take over for an injured Sanchez on Thursday night in Toronto, it was really a chance for Clemens to say to Rex Ryan, "Hey, If you need to bench the rookie, I can get it done," essentially putting more pressure on Sanchez to up his game.

And what did Clemens do? He showed, again, why he isn't the starter, attempting a total of two passes and completing one. But that wasn't the story. The story of Kellen Clemens' performance cannot be told through statistics; it can only be told with the naked eye.

Clemens did fumble once, but managed to recover it. But when you watch Kellen Clemens, when he goes back to pass, he looks afraid. It seems as if he doesn't see someone open the second the ball is snapped, then it's a broken play, and it's time to run around like a chicken with his head cut off.

And Rex Ryan wanted to give him a game ball for his performance Thursday...why?

His pocket awareness has got to be the worst of any quarterback i've ever seen. He moves around well, but when you see him move around, trouble is in order. Clemens manages to move around, and essentially move right into the arms of opposing defenders. He doesn't trust the pocket. This may be a product of playing behind a terrible offensive line when he started eight games in 2007 for the Jets.

Call it QBPTSD: Quarterback Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Clemens was traumatized by the Jets offensive line in 2007, and gives up when he sees defenders coming because of it.

This alone, is why Jets fans really need to hope Sanchez is good to go for the rest of the season. Granted, the Jets are a running team, and will win games because of their running game.

But it is clear that the Jets' best chance to win is with Sanchez under center. Although Sanchez's ability to get out of the pocket and make plays will likely be limited with two injured knees, it's better than seeing Clemens flail around before inevitably getting sacked.

And if Sanchez is healthy the rest of the way, and is able to play like he has the last two games, who knows what can happen. Maybe once-dead playoff hopes will be resurrected again.