The Jets Suck; It’s Clemens’ Times

The big issue surrounding the Jets now is when, or whether, Kellen Clemens will take over for the struggling Chad Pennington.

Pennington has thrown 21 interceptions in his last 18 games, but the coaching staff has been patient, so Jets fans shouldn’t expect to see Clemens unless the team is completely and incontrovertibly out of it at the bye week.

At 1-6, they’re just about done. If you play the “Win, Loss, Win” game, the outlook might be: Bills (W), Redskins (L), which would put them at 2-7 entering their week off. Realistic hopes of a division title are gone – the Patriots are the Patriots – and with seven losses in the AFC, the team would probably be out of wild card contention. At that point, the pressure from the fans would be great and Eric Mangini would have no reason or excuse to not make the quarterback switch. Plus, the bye would give them two weeks to prepare Clemens, and the second-year signal-caller would get seven-game audition.

Although Mangini said on Wednesday that Pennington would start against the Bills, the coach’s previously obstinate support of Pennington wavered somewhat after last week’s loss to the Bengals, and the quarterback is now most likely on a short leash (ESPN jumped the gun on that one, too, last week).

Pennington is 31, has been a starter for five seasons and is familiar with the league, and his arm isn’t getting any stronger. At this point, it’s safe to say that he is what he is.

The youngster will have his struggles, but he should be able to attack the intermediate range and hit some completions downfield to Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Clemens will probably throw more interceptions than Pennington, but he’ll also get the team into the end zone more often.

The job should have probably been given to Clemens to start the season, but the Jets went 10-6 in 2006, and that bought Pennington a commitment from the coaching staff.

But the team wasn’t that good last season, either. Going into 2006, if someone had told you that the quarterback would have three more turnovers than touchdowns (16 INTs and four fumbles lost), the leading rusher would have 650 yards, they’d start rookies at center and left tackle, the offense would rank 25th and the defense would rank 20th overall (16th in turnovers forced), you’d probably be thinking it sounds like the recipe of 6-win team, or worse. Even with the easy schedule, that record with those stats was an anomaly. And it might have set the Jets back a season.

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