Monday, May 19, 2008

Pennington vs Clemens

There is a QB controversy in New York City, and it features two quarterbacks who struggled mightily last season. Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens both split time last season, struggling while the Jets posted a miserable 4-12 record.

In the 2006 draft, Eric Mangini's first year on the job, GM Mike Tannebaum selected Kellen Clemens with the 49th overall selection. With Chad Pennington coming off of surgery that offseason, and with Patrick Ramsey also on the roster as insurance, the Jets drafted Kellen Clemens with the idea that he may be the quarterback of the future.

In the ensuing 2006 season, the Chad Pennington-led Jets went 10-6, surprising the football world by quarterbacking the Jets to the playoffs. When the Jets got to the playoffs, they suffered the worst loss in franchise playoff history at the hands of the New England Patriots, 37-16. Since that day, the Jets fan base, as well as prognosticators, have questioned Chad's ability namely his physical ability. Chad has never had sterling physical ability dating back to his breakout season in 2002, but after the two surgeries any arm strength that he had was all but sapped. His arm strength has been a major issue for the last two seasons, as his ability to throw the ball outside the hashmarks has been questioned. His ability to fit the ball into tight spots has also been criticized, as defenses can play close to the line of scrimmage in anticipation of the short passes. The defenses can crowd the box and jump the short routes since Chad poses little threat deep down the field or deep down the sidelines. This was never more evident than last season, when Chad struggled leading the Jets to a 1-8 record during his starts, leading the offense to a mediocre 16 PPG, which is near the bottom of the league.

The offensive line definitely struggled throughout the course of the season, as Chad was sacked more in his nine game stint this past season than any other nine game stint in his career. They didn't open up many holes for Thomas Jones as he averaged a shaky 3.6 YPC, and scored a whopping total of ONE touchdown.

That being said, in big situations Chad's lack of physical ability was clearly evident, as was his inability to ever lead a team down to score in a situation where the defense knows you are going to pass. Against the Bengals, down 7 with less than two minutes to play, Chad threw a pick to Jonathan Joseph on the sidelines that turned into the six points, showing his lack of zip on those passes outside the hash. Against the Giants, once again on a pass outside the numbers, Aaron Ross jumped an out pattern and took it back to the house. While bringing the team back from a deficit was never a strong point for Chad, it has never snowballed to the point where he continually threw backbreaking interceptions like he did this past season.

After week 9, Kellen Clemens took the reigns at quarterback and also struggled for the remainder of the season as he often looked clueless out there and had issues with his accuracy. He threw five touchdowns and ten interceptions in his seven starts, while the Jets won three of them. Kellen showed flashes in some of these games, namely against Baltimore when he led the team back from a 20-3 deficit in the 4th quarter, and had opportunities to tie the game. Unfortunately for Clemens, McCareins dropped two potential game tying TDs, and therefore the Jets lost that game 20-13.

Against Washington, in his first home start, Clemens took a beating from an angry Washington defense, but showed poise, hanging in the pocket and making tight crisp throws for the majority of the game. Once again Clemens showed a penchant for late game heroics, leading the Jets to a game tying field goal with 15 seconds left in the game. With the game tied at 20, the Jets received the ball on offense and drove to the Washington 45. On a critical 3rd down, Jerricho Cotchery dropped a pass that would have put the Jets into field goal range. After getting the ball back, Washington pounded the ball and pounded it some more all the way to a game winning field goal.

While Clemens did show flashes of good he did also show flashes of sheer incompetence, which was never more clear than on National TV Thanksgiving Day against the Cowboys. Clemens had his worst game of the season, leading the team to three points, while throwing for 142 yards, and an interception that led to a Terrance Newman touchdown. Clemens performance was very uneven as the QB, as he was Jekyll and Hyde.

Now my viewpoints on this QB battle

1) With Clemens you do not know what you have as he has only played half a season. Right now, the guy is bad, but you don't close the book on a quarterback after a half a season.

2) With Chad Pennington starting the Jets are 32-32, and a losing record since his second shoulder surgery.

3) Pennington does not have the ability to lead a productive offense, as is proven by the fact that since 2002 he has never led a scoring offense that was better than 15th in the league.

4) Clemens attacks everywhere on the field while Chad cannot due to his limitations physically.

We know what Chad is, a mediocre QB who has hit his ceiling and is not getting any better. His presence doesn't help the WRs as often they are walloped trying to catch a pass due to Pennington's lack of arm strength. It doesn't help the running backs as they have to continuously run against crowded boxes.

I think that Kellen Clemens will beat out Pennington for the starting job, but it won't be easy as Pennington is a favorite of the team and the coach. I honestly think that Pennington should be released before too long. You give Clemens the reigns, then sign Daunte Culpepper as a backup.

The best you can hope for with Chad Pennington is a 10 win season and a divisonal round appearance in the playoffs. If that happens, then Clemens is done as Jet since he can't beat out Pennington, and then you have to start all over in finding a franchise quarterback because Pennington is not it.

Starting Pennington, even if he wins a few games, is the equivalent of a short term gain for a long term pain.


warrrrrrrren said...

I believe you know what you're getting with Pennington and while the Jets brought in talent to win now they still need to give Clemens the nod. I feel the offensive coordinator who is never mentioned in when you talk NYJ QB's should be mentioned. I feel the Jets offense is extremely predictable and about 5 years behind the rest of the league.


Unknown said...

But is the offense extremely predictable because of Shotty (offense coordinator) or because of Chad Pennington's limitations?

I think that with a good defense Chad P can succeed, but he is not a QB that can put a team on his shoulders if need be. To win a SB you need a QB that can step up to the plate when no one else is doing anything... unless you have the 2000 Ravens D, then it doesn't matter who is back there.

Slick Vic said...

Well the future is now for the Jets with all there free agent signings. I always am a strong believer that the OL is a QB's best friend and they have addressed this issue.

Here's what I think which is somewhat out there. Why not have a dual QB system. It can offset a defense and how it plays but it would require alot of schematic play calling its a crazy thought but with these 2 QB's it might be crazy enough to work.