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Mark Sanchez Vs. Kellen Clemens: The QB Competition No One Should Believe

Angel Navedo@NamedAngelSenior Writer IMay 4, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - MAY 02:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets looks on during minicamp on May 2, 2009 at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Eric Mangini's cryptic approach to sharing information with the press might be a thing of the past for the New York Jets, but placing absolute faith in any words escaping from Florham Park this offseason is still ill-advised.

This isn't to say that the Jets are liars. Their approach can be credited as a strategic one as it's quite obvious that this organization enjoys guarding its thoughts and intentions..

With the rookie minicamp over and Mark Sanchez back in California preparing to receive his degree from USC, the Jets' lip service is as consistent as ever. "I'm looking forward to watching these guys compete," said Brian Schottenheimer, the Jets' fourth-year offensive coordinator.

Does he believe that as much as he did in March when he told SNY that the Jets' 2009 opening day quarterback was currently on the roster?

Surely you jest.

In all actuality, the only thing people are looking forward to is watching Mark Sanchez perform well enough to justify being named the starter from the onset. 

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No one is interested in another competition involving Kellen Clemens, nor does anyone believe it.

The summer will be filled with press clippings and quotables from the Jets' offices about Clemens and his legitimate shot to be named the starter. They will cite his familiarity with the offense, the intangibles he's developed since being drafted, and his capability to be a leader of men.

That's so last year. Such words held more merit in 2008, when the battle was between Clemens and the recently benched Chad Pennington. 

The Jets' perception of Clemens and his ability to lead the team into the future was made clear on Aug. 6, 2008. The second Brett Favre to New York was official, any doubts as to where Clemens stood with the organization and their future plans should have been erased.

If general manager Mike Tannenbaum was willing to part with as high as a first-round choice for one season of Favre-ball, then it's ridiculous to assume Clemens could be a legitimate option at this point.

The unwillingness to stand by Clemens received what appears to be the final stamp of emphasis when the Jets jumped 12 spots in the draft to select the quarterback they coveted most.

Head coach Rex Ryan has used every opportunity available to him to recall Baltimore's success after starting Joe Flacco as a rookie. That should further cement the Jets' internal hopes that Sanchez can do enough to be named the starter during training camp.

With Sanchez expected to sign a contract that would guarantee him upwards of $30M, there's no purpose in delaying the inevitable.

There's a slight possibility that this competition can bring forth a situation similar to the Drew Brees-Philip Rivers battle in San Diego. But that road still led down its original path—Rivers became the starter and was, arguably, the best statistical QB in the NFL last season.

One thing is obvious in this battle: the New York Jets will never belong to Kellen Clemens. That's not intended to be a knock on the young man as much as it's a blunt declaration of the obvious.

If the Jets were enamored with Sanchez's intelligence, confidence, and football knowledge, then it would defy logic to try to protect him from the growing pains every rookie faces. With as little collegiate experience as Sanchez has coming into the NFL, it's an even worse idea to remove him from the tempo of a real game for an extended amount of time.

Sanchez is expected to be this team's franchise QB, for better or for worse. No amount of waiting behind someone in whom the Jets were never deeply invested will prepare him for what's to come.

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