Time To Go Back To Vinny

By Mark Cannizzaro
Jets Staff Writer
December 6th, 2005
Let's be honest: Brooks Bollinger is a guy you root for, the feel-good underdog story, a nice guy, a hard worker, an overachiever. But this underdog has had his days.

We're nearing Vinny Testaverde time again _ for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, Bollinger is clearly unable to lead the Jets' offense to points and wins. The Jets need no more evaluation time to know where he fits in their future plans.

And secondly, with this season already long lost, why not let Testaverde leave his career starting the last couple of games instead of wallowing on the bench behind a third-string quarterback?

He wants to play and yesterday made a public plea on his weekly WFAN radio spot. “I’d love to be in there playing,” said Testaverde. “Hopefully Herm (Edwards) is listening,” he went on.

That would give beleaguered Jets fans a chance to cheer again and have some semblance of fun for these last handful of games.

For Bollinger, the numbers are simply too damning in five starts. He's winless in his five starts this season. He's led the Jets on 44 offensive possessions during those five starts and produced one touchdown and seven field goals. That's 28 points in five games, an average of less than six points per game.

During those 44 possessions, 23 have ended in Ben Graham punts and seven have ended in turnovers _ five interceptions and two fumbles.

Sure the Jets are challenged on the offensive line, where only one starter remains in his starting spot from opening day and two starters are on injured reserve.

Sure Curtis Martin has been battling through a sprained right knee since the second game of the season.

Sure, sure, sure, sure.

At some point, though, you have to analyze the body of work and realize that Bollinger is what he is _ probably nothing more than a third-string caliber quarterback, decent insurance for a team to have as a No. 3 because of the experience he's gained this year, but perhaps not trustworthy as a No. 2.

Sources inside Weeb Ewbank Hall all along have viewed Bollinger as a No. 3, though his performance against the Saints two weeks ago, seemed to elevate some feelings about Bollinger outside of the organization.

The Jets have scored one touchdown in a month, spanning four games. That's difficult to do. Their wide receivers have produced only three touchdown catches all season.

Where do the Jets, 2-10 entering Sunday's game against the 4-8 Raiders, go from here?

There aren't a lot of choices, but here's the way it should be:

The Jets are going to start Bollinger Sunday against the Raiders, and that's fine. It's perhaps their best chance the rest of the season to get a win and Bollinger deserves to be a part of a win. So start him Sunday and let him try to get off the schneid.

If Bollinger is unable to lead the Jets to victory against the disfunctional Raiders, who look like they might be benching their starter Kerry Collins (more on him in a moment), then let him keep playing.

If Bollinger and the Jets are unable to beat the Raiders and this offensive malaise continues, then the Jets should put Testaverde in for the last three games and let him finish his terrific career out with dignity.

This is, in no way to say that Testaverde has been any better than Bollinger. He's yet to throw a TD pass in his playing time this season and has turned the ball over a staggering 12 times _ six interceptions and six fumbles.

But, outside of getting Jay Fiedler in against his former Dolphins team in Miami in two weeks, which doesn't at all look like it's going to happen, where is the fun left to this season?

Put Testaverde in, at least in the home games, and give the fans something to cheer for.

We already know about Bollinger. Five starts provide a pretty good evaluation period. He has no chance of being the team's No. 2 quarterback next season.

Depending on how things fall with a veteran the Jets bring in to compete for the starting job, a rookie for the future they might draft, current backup Fiedler and Chad Pennington, there probably won't even be room for Bollinger on the roster next year.

Hopefully, Bollinger has shown enough potential on game films for another team to give him another chance. He's a good story, a class kid and good enough to be someone's emergency quarterback.


Speaking of Pennington, how do you think he's been feeling over these last couple of months with the rampant speculation about his cloudy future.

A highly-placed Jets' source said the organization is looking at him as 50-50 to return to form. Most others have completely discounted him.

So far, Pennington has been mum since the dust settled following his injury and subsequent surgery, but according to someone closer to him and familiar with his thinking, Pennington plans to speak to reporters about his future in the next couple of weeks.

Another player who'll emerge with a press conference before the end of the season will be receiver Wayne Chrebet, who'll announce his retirement.

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