When dealing with NFL quarterbacks and style of play, one thing comes to mind in my evaluations... Are they playing to win, or playing not to lose? After watching year one of the Sanchez era this question was easily answered, he was playing not to lose and showing no signs during the regular season of changing that strategy. Strike that! He attempted on occasion to try to win, only to end up playing catch with the opponents DB's.
Enter Kellen Clemens the Jets perenial backup out of Oregon who after being drafted 49th overall in the 2006 draft was expected to eventually take over for Chad Pennington. Clemens showed signs during the Jets 2007 training camp that he indeed had the tools to be a starter in the NFL. Then early in the regular season with Chad Pennington stubbing his toe, breaking a nail, or whatever injury he added to his list, Clemens got his shot.
Clemens was now (though only temporary) the New York Jets starting quarterback and he was ready to play NOT to lose! Essentially Clemens rookie season officially began in 2007. Like most young first time starters, Clemens was no real threat to throw for 400 yards and run for 100, but he had the size 6'2" 220 and the arm strength to at least make teams think twice about soft coverage.
Clemens started several times in 2007 and although his numbers were not great, he did manage to keep the Jets in just about every game. Clemens gave the eventual 4-12 Jets a chance and that's all he could do.
Going into the 2008 season Clemens looked to finally get the opportunity to become the New York Jets official starter only to have Brett Favre swoop in from retirement and take the reigns. Clemens was officially the backup yet again, but at least he had a legend to learn from in Favre.
Which brings us to 2009 and the beginning of the Sanchez era. After being drafted by the Jets with the 5th overall pick, Sanchez was immediately thrust in as the #1 guy in camp even though his college experience was limited. Once again Clemens was the second stringer who would also play placekicker against the Dolphins that year.
Sanchez in my opinion had a rough start in the 2009 season and played exactly as he was expected to... Like a inexperienced rookie who barely played in college. Coach Ryan attempted to surround him with excellence during and after the season in an attempt to not just keep him safe, but to have alternatives to the Sanchez patented interception toss. The Jets went deep into the playoffs and Sanchez went deep into surgery during the off-season to repair his battered left knee.
With the 2010 regular season begining in the upcoming months coach Rex Ryan has no doubts about who will be his starter at quarterback. During the offseason coach Ryan collected some of the NFLs best players both via the draft and free agency. So while Sanchez practices his handoff techniques, Clemens prepares yet again to hold the clipboard and watch from the sidelines. What Clemens is not aware of is that Sanchez will not/should not remain the Jets starter for more than 3 weeks into the season.
This is the year that Jets fans and football fans alike will realize that Sanchez is not the be all to end all when dealing with the Jets quarterbacking issues. Regardless of Coach Ryans off-season acquisitions eventually Sanchez will have to throw the ball.
It is my belief that the Jets would be better suited if the Jets taught Sanchez to hand the ball off to Clemens and learn the system from the sidelines not by chasing down a corner who just picked off yet another Sanchez rainbow pass. Be it health issues or poor play, Clemens will be the starter by mid season and the Jets will be a better team for it.
"The Horses Mouth"