Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Sanchez era begins by Jim Hildebrand

Kellen Clemens finally had a legitimate chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Brett Favre had retired. The Jets drafted a rookie quarterback rather than signing a veteran. He had game experience. He practiced in the same system for three years. He was the Jets quarterback of the future.

Keyword: WAS.

Clemens finally had a fair chance to be the Jets number one signal caller. In 2006, he was a mere rookie when he was beaten out for the job, badly, by Chad Pennington. Last year, Favre was traded for and Clemens took a back seat again. But this was the year. This was the year he was supposed to show maturity. This was the year he was supposed to take the reigns. This was the year that he has been waiting for since he first put on shoulder pads.

Yes, the Jets love Mark Sanchez and always did want him to be their starter on opening day. However, it wasn’t so much that Sanchez won the job; no, it’s just that Clemens was more underwhelming than Sanchez was overwhelming. Let’s not discredit Mark Sanchez. He had a solid training camp and deserves to be the number one QB on this team. And even though the Jets wanted Sanchez to start, it was a fair battle all training camp. Clemens was practicing with the first team constantly, more than Sanchez. And maybe that was the problem for him.

When Favre retired earlier this year, Clemens was the starter. He was the starter when the Jets drafted Sanchez, too. Let’s be honest, this team is built to win now. You don’t groom a “quarterback of the future” when your team is built to win in the present. The only thing the Jets really need from the quarterback position this year is to not turn the ball over. However, that’s precisely the thing that Clemens can’t seem to grasp. Whether it was in his past NFL experience, during training camp or the preseason games, Clemens couldn’t (and doesn’t) seem to understand the concept of ball control.

Conversely, Sanchez hasn’t turned the ball over much at all over the past month in a Jets uniform. He has displayed leadership qualities, learns from his mistakes and, most importantly, shown the Jets what a starting quarterback should look like. Grab your clipboard (again) Kellen Clemens. You’re gonna need it.

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