Quarterback Sneak: Here We Go Again…

Eric Weeks , TheJetsBlog.com

In the not too distant past I had just begun writing for TJB in February 2009 and one of my first opinion pieces addressed the Jets’ quarterback situation. Reeling from their poor finish and having just fired Eric Mangini, the Jets were looking for answers across the board and the quarterback position harbored the most uncertainty. Favre was to retire again leaving the Jets with limited options: an unproven trio in Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, and Erik Ainge, free agents such as Matt Cassel and then of course the draft that featured limited quarterback prospects such as Matthew Stafford, Sanchez and Josh Freeman.

As the Jets approached the draft there was a general feeling that the Jets would somehow, someway trade up and after Tannenbaum made a call to Cleveland to set up a deal with his old friend Mangini, the rest is history. Unfortunately for the Jets, while Sanchez had two solid years, behind a strong running game, the last two have been filled with turmoil and ultimately resulted in his demotion just a couple of weeks ago. With one game remaining on the schedule, the Jets have begun preparations for the future and we yet again find ourselves talking about the quarterbacks. Who will be able to lead an offense that has struggled for so long? Lets take a look at some candidates.

Mark Sanchez: After negotiating a contract extension, the Jets’ $8 million Man accounts for part of their stringent salary cap in 2013. Between 2011 and 2012, Sanchez has appeared to regress and lose his confidence despite repeated vouches by Rex Ryan. There is talent there and we know because we’ve seen flashes of it but for whatever the reason Sanchez continues to make the same, frustrating rookie mistakes and cannot put it all together. He may make the roster if they cannot unload his contract but it would likely be in a back-up role. After all that has transpired this season, the ideal resolution is for both parties to part ways.

Greg McElroy: After leapfrogging Tebow on the depth chart, GMac was handed the reigns and while one game is a small sample size, there are clearly some raw aspects to his game especially his pocket presence but much of that comes with experience. That said, he has certainly lived up to his game manager billing while protecting the football and making the occasional throws that need to be made. He will be in contention for the starting job if the Jets decide to sign a low tier free agent or hold off drafting a quarterback.

Matt Moore: After the season, Moore will become an unrestricted free agent and will undoubtedly be looking for a starting gig after sitting behind Tannehill. Moore won’t light up the scoreboard but much like McElroy, he’s a game manager with more experience and knows the AFC East well. He could be an option for the Jets if they decide to sign a veteran to hold them over for a year.

Alex Smith: Smith was doing well before going down with a concussion and being replaced by Colin Kaepernick but, I just don’t see it working out. Smith didn’t begin to perform well until Jim Harbaugh arrived and I would be scared of Smith being a system quarterback. Now, it’s quite possible he could do well somewhere else but after their latest quarterback failure, I should think the Jets wouldn’t want to touch Smith with a 10 foot pole.

Michael Vick: He’s likely to become a free agent because of a $3 million bonus the Eagles don’t want to dole out especially given his poor play over the past two seasons. Factor in his durability issues and this screams disaster. He would be an intriguing prospect because of his ability to throw and run, something the Jets were hoping Tebow could do, but he’s also going to be 33 and he’ll be looking for a relatively lucrative contract which the Jets simply cannot afford in 2013. Add in the fact that the media here will rip him to shreads at the first signs of struggle and it is another recipe for disaster. The Jets need to let this pipedream go.

Matt Flynn: Despite signing a three year contract, Russell Wilson’s success has made Flynn an expendable component for the Seahawks who could very well trade him as he is only guaranteed $2 million in 2013. If the Jets could swap Flynn for Sanchez, who would be reunited with Pete Carroll, it could be a win-win with a caveat. Flynn is another system quarterback that works best in a west coast offense and he has only started twice in his career. He’s a risky gamble and the Jets can’t really afford gambles right now.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: There’s talk that Buffalo will part ways with Fitzpatrick after his performances took a nosedive once the ink dried on his $19.5 million contract. Although he has struggled, he knows the AFC East well and has a 82.9 pass rating this season per ESPN NY. Again, he may be an option if the Jets look for a veteran to hold them over for a year.

Geno Smith: In a relatively weak quarterback class, Smith is one of the few bright spots which is why he’ll likely go early. Smith has solid accuracy and has managed to keep the turnovers to a minimum. He moves around well in the pocket but his mental toughness has been questioned particularly during the Kansas State game.

Matt Barkley: I get the feeling the Jets may want to shy away from USC quarterbacks for a while but Barkley is one of the top rated prospects for the upcoming draft so we’ll humor you. Barkley has been praised for his ball placement, timing and leadership abilities but his decision-making is questionable at times.

Tyler Wilson: Wilson is well-known for his arm of course he has been known to rely on it so much so that he tries to fit passes through tight spaces resulting in interceptions. Still, Wilson is a tough and mobile quarterback who would be able to come in and compete.

Landry Jones: Jones is another mobile quarterback with good arm strength and solid accuracy. However, he has erratic decision making abilities. He has the tools to develop but he may not be for New York if they’re looking for a quick fix.

Aaron Murray: With an arm, toughness, mobility and excellent throwing form, Murray is one of the better prospects available in the draft. There are concerns about his height (6’1″) but he seems to have the right tools and attitude.

Ryan Nassib: Nassib has a solid arm and is mobile in the pocket. He is accurate if he is forced to throw on the run and can utilize his eyes to fool defenders. However, he has a tendency to make poor decisions under pressure and force the ball to his receivers. He could be a solid option for the Jets.