The New York Jets are easily the top story in all of football. The team is led by an outspoken, brash coach who backs up his claims. The rookie quarterback is a star on and off the field. The defense hadn’t let up a touchdown until Week 3. And the team is 3-0, beating three of the most highly touted teams in the AFC on the way. Regardless of the endless scroll of positives, there is one negative that is hidden amongst the glitz.
Coming into this season, the wide receiver spot was viewed as the weakest position on this Jets team. There were questions whether or not Jerricho Cotchery was a true number 1 target. Chansi Stuckey had not yet displayed his playmaking abilities. And Dustin Keller’s name was hardly ever uttered. Now that that position is more or less squared away, the Jets need to focus on another, arguably more important, offensive position: the backup quarterback.
As a rookie, Mark Sanchez has done everything he was expected to do and more. The leadership and liveliness he presents on the field prevents him from being pulled at any time this season. But the question always remains. “What if he gets hurt?” says the typical, cynical Jets fan. “Who’s there to back him up?” And while it may seem like normal pessimism, it has a great deal of validity.
Who is there to rely on if Mark Sanchez happens to leave a game? Think about it.
Kellen Clemens has been nothing but a big bucket of failure his entire career. The man has lost 3 quarterback battles for a reason. Count them. One to Chad Pennington (Get well soon). Another to Chad, this one though scared the Jets so much; they went and traded for Brett Favre. And this past one to Mark Sanchez, a rookie, albeit excellent, but Clemens’ knowledge of the New York playbook should have made it much closer. He really has no business being a backup plan for a potential playoff team like the New York Jets.
Next would be Erik Ainge, who, according to JP Pelzman of the Record, could be overtaking Clemens as the second string quarterback soon. He performed extremely well in the preseason and was much more impressive than Clemens. He was 10-of-17 for 160 yards in the final preseason game against Philadelphia. The problem is that he’s never thrown a regular season pass or a pass against a first string defense in any game. So his clout isn’t that of a backup.
And lastly is Kevin O’Connell, played in two games for New England last year, but is more known for being at the center of a conspiracy against his former team.
The group of people backing up Sanchez is weak at best. But now the Jets have an opportunity to rectify that position and add some experience and stability. Again.
Three weeks ago, Jeff Garcia was released by the Oakland Raiders. The Jets, in the same position they’re in now, failed to make an offer to the veteran. He was scooped by the Philadelphia Eagles after Week 1 and all hope seemed lost. Now, with Kevin Kolb’s encouraging play and Michael Vick’s growing presence, Philly doesn’t need Garcia. So the Eagles released him today. The door for the Jets to get Jeff Garcia is reopened.
Jeff Garcia has had an impressive NFL career thus far, from his years in San Francisco, to his first stint with the Eagles and his time in Tampa Bay. Just about every time he’s come into a situation where he’s thrust into a starting spot, he’s done phenomenally. And even though he didn’t blow people away in Philly this year, I believe he’d do well with the Jets. The offensive line is one of the NFL’s best, the receivers are underrated and he would add a much needed dimension to a somewhat stagnant ground game. And that’s not even mentioning the support given to him by the defense and special teams.
Also, Jeff Garcia has been closely compared with our new favorite Jet, Mark Sanchez. Getting past similar origins of their last names and their longtime residence of California, the two are alike. Both are active in the pocket, using their feet to buy a few extra moments to make a throw. Both don’t have to put up gaudy passing numbers to win. And while Sanchez isn’t a great threat running the ball, maybe Garcia could teach him to tuck the ball in when he runs into a linebacker.
If that doesn’t sell you, this will. Do you really want Kellen Clemens to play football for your team? Some Jets fans welcomed the idea of Garcia, when it looked like the quarterback battle would be between Clemens and Brett Ratliff. Remember those days?
The Jets have an opportunity to not only improve their team exponentially now, but also in the future. They can’t make the same mistake twice. They have to sign Jeff Garcia.