Will Erik Ainge Be the New York Jets' Quarterback this Season?

Jonathan SzenicsCorrespondent IJune 17, 2008

Let's face it; the New York Jets' quarterback situation is not of the greatest quality at the current time, and it is nothing to celebrate either.

They have one quarterback, Chad Pennington, who can win ball games, but who cannot throw the ball more than 20 yards. They have another, Kellen Clemens, who has a rocket arm, but whose brain operates as if a rocket exploded in it. 

Finally, they have a fifth-round draft pick, one Erik Ainge, who was selected mainly because there was nothing to lose with the pick. 

If he ends up being a great quarterback, then the Jets made one of the best picks of the draft. If he ends up being nothing special, then who cares?  Just release him and move on. 

Right now though, the Jets cannot afford to be careless with their picks. They are at a point in their franchise's history, where if a few moves do not pay off, then they will not be a contender for years. 

Knowing this, they spent an incredible amount of money to get free agents on the team, such as Alan Faneca, Calvin Pace, and Tony Richardson. 

In addition, they drafted Vernon Gholston with the sixth overall pick in the draft, hoping that he would become the next version of Lawrence Taylor. 

With all of these factors in mind, many of the weaknesses have been eliminated.  Thomas Jones has a solid fullback in Richardson to run behind and a vastly improved offensive line ahead of him as well. 

The defense has plugged many holes together as well, with the signing of Pace and the trade for defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, which will make the team much harder to run on than in previous seasons. 

Finally, Kerry Rhodes is locked up in a long-term deal, and as long as he is around, the secondary will at least keep plays ahead of them. 

But what about the quarterback, the most important position on the field?

To many, it seems as if the Jets have ignored this need. Many people see this as a sign of many different egos getting in the way. 

The team doesn't want to admit that it dropped the ball with Pennington's contract. They do not want to admit that Clemens probably is not the long-term answer, considering he was a second-round pick just a few years ago. 

As a result, they took a guy in the fifth round of the draft, just in case neither one ends up being the answer at quarterback. 

The real question is though: Will Erik Ainge be the Jets' quarterback by the end of the season? 

The answer is yes, for better or worse. Ainge did come from Tennessee, where one Peyton Manning played his college ball. He also has two stellar seasons under his belt going for him.

At the same time though, the pressure of New York may be too much for Ainge to handle. He is going to have to quickly learn how to deal with it. 


First, Pennington will either play to a level where the fans will be booing him off the field, even if he is limping from injury, as they so brutally did last year, or he will get injured somehow yet again. 

Second, Clemens will again prove that he is not the man to take over for the Jets. With the system that the team runs, making the right reads is a must, and he does not have the mental makeup to run the team to the level that it has to be run at. He probably never will either. 

This leaves Ainge as the man for the job by default. Will he succeed? Only time will tell, but by the end of the year, or hopefully sooner so that Ainge has some games under his belt, he will be the man. 

Let's just hope that he does not lose any games for the team, and let's hope that his teammates do most of the work, which could lead to a playoff spot. Even though, unfortunately, the playoffs seem just out of reach at the current time, considering that the AFC is such a tough conference to play in right now.


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