As the offseason begins, Gang Green Nation will take a look at potential ways to improve the club. Today we will explore starting Kellen Clemens at quarterback.
Profile: The Jets took Clemens in the second round of the 2006 Draft out of Oregon with the intention of making him the franchise quarterback of the future. After a rookie season in which his excellent play in practice got him up to the number two spot on the depth chart for a few games, Kellen became a fan favorite and sparked a minor quarterback controversy with a monster preseason. The calls for his promotion to the starting job only got louder after a furious rally starting for an injured Chad Pennington in Week 2 against Rex Ryan's Ravens defense. The Jets would have rallied from 17 down to force overtime had Justin McCareins made one of two perfect throws Clemens made that would have resulted in touchdowns. After Gang Green fell to 1-7, Kellen became the starter and did little to impress. He finished 2007 with 5 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a passer rating of just 60.9. The lack of confidence Kellen inspired in his eight starts was a factor in the Jets trading for Brett Favre.
Why It Makes Sense: Clemens may have struggled, but there were mitigating factors. He was not supposed to see the field in 2007. Chad Pennington's struggles forced him into the lineup. Plenty of quarterbacks struggle in their first season only to improve drastically with an offseason of hard work and studying what went wrong on tape. His numbers are comparable with those of Eli Manning during his rookie campaign. A lot of teams loved Kellen's physical tools and intangibles before that Draft. They still exist. Clemens was adjusting to the NFL with perhaps the worst starting left guard and right tackle in the game. Opposing defenses essentially had a sitting duck dropping back. Even though Kellen struggled, he put together five drives to tie or win games in the last 2:00 or overtime, and that number would have been six had McCareins been able to make a catch in Baltimore. He has three years of experience studying the system and is the only quarterback on the roster to take an NFL snap, let alone start a game.
Odds of Happening: Given his ceiling and familiarity with the system, the starting job is his to lose.