The Jets want to see big things from Mark Sanchez this year. They hope he starts all 16 games. At a position like quarterback where a player is a target, staying healthy is easier said than done, particularly with a guy like Sanchez who is still learning the finer points of avoiding unnecessary contact. The Jets have numerous options. Nothing on the table right now looks terribly enticing, though.
Kellen Clemens is the incumbent. After four years, the team does not seem to have much faith in him. The Jets traded for somebody to supplant him in the starting lineup two straight years. He has started 9 career games and has posted 5 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and 51.8 completion percentage. He looked very indecisive in the pocket in 2 appearances last year against the Bills and Bucs.
The Jets have long been rumored to be interested in signing Mark Brunell. It really isn't clear that he has anything left in the tank, though. He has started a single game in the past 3 years. He went 15 for 30 for 102 yards, 1 interception, and a 44 passer rating in that game. In 2 of his last 3 seasons as a starting quarterback, he was benched. He was an excellent starter at one point, but it seems days of any sort of productivity are in the past.
Erik Ainge was one of the stars of last preseason and something of a fan favorite for the job. I'm not really sold on him either, though. Preseason means nothing, particularly against third, fourth, and fifth stringers at the end of the game. Did Brett Ratliff's preseason success mean anything? I wasn't really impressed by what Ainge showed. Yes, the numbers were impressive on paper, but he again was up against subpar competition. His accuracy didn't look that great. I saw a lot of cases where marginal defenders gave more space to receivers than they would have against starters in a regular season game. I also saw receivers make great adjustments to poorly thrown balls. Ainge throws a wobbily football. Chad Pennington seems to be the posterboy for a lack of arm strength, but part of how he compensates for that is the clean way the ball leaves his hand. He throws tight spirals and for the most part can get the ball to his man. Ainge doesn't have great arm strength and doesn't throw it cleanly. I thought he had a lot of potential coming out of Tennessee. He still might. I'm just not sure I'd be thrilled with him as the backup unless he has made strides in the offseason.
Brad Smith is another guy who gets mentioned for a spot on the depth chart. I know he played quarterback in college, but this is tough to figure. He hasn't played the position since 2005. He hasn't gotten reps in practice or even had to make reads in a pro system. Beyond this, he hasn't looked too great when he has thrown it. Even his completions haven't really been on the mark.
Kevin O'Connell is the real guy I have my eye on. The Jets tried to claim him off waivers from the Patriots last year. They promptly traded for him when he landed with the Lions. Perhaps this was just to get insider information of New England's playbook for the Week 2 meeting. Maybe they saw something in him, though. The Pats took him early in the 2008 Draft. A lot of their fans wanted him to start over Matt Cassel immediately after Tom Brady got hurt that year. He's a blank slate. Nobody has really seen much of him, but he showed tools to get himself picked so highly.
I'd like to see more out of O'Connell, but the Jets don't seem to have great insurance behind Sanchez. They had a run game and defense carry them to within a game of the Super Bowl last year with a shaky rookie, though. It seems like they might lean on these elements again if anything happens to Mark.
Who is your choice to be Sanchez's primary backup?
Who should be the backup quarterback?
Kellen Clemens (173 votes)
Erik Ainge (209 votes)
Mark Brunell (106 votes)
Kevin O'Connell (189 votes)
Brad Smith (94 votes)
771 total votes