The Jets' Quincy Carter is eager to quiet the naysayers that say he's not a quality NFL quarterback.
The New York Jets were in desperate need for resurgence after suffering a nightmarish 2003 season, in which the team finished 6-10. Refusing to accept mediocrity, the Jets’ front office made a commendable effort to restock the roster with talent through free agency and the NFL Draft. The one roster move that has to this point, flown under the radar was the late off-season addition of QB Quincy Carter.
After starting all 16 regular season games last year, plus one playoff contest, Carter was released by the Dallas Cowboys a few days after the start of training camp. Uncomfortable with their backup quarterbacks that featured inexperienced players Brooks Bollinger and ex-CFL star Ricky Ray, the Jets made a bold move, signing Carter to a one-year deal, despite speculation that Carter had failed a drug test while in Dallas. At the time, head coach Herm Edwards addressed the controversy surrounding Carter and his signing with Gang Green.
"To not give someone an opportunity because they made a mistake would not be fair,” Edwards said. "We got a guy who you think is a good quarterback and can upgrade your position. If I was concerned about (any off-field problems), he probably not be a Jet.”
Indeed, the Jets secured the rights of a player with valuable starting experience and tremendous athletic ability. Carter, a four-year veteran, has started all 31 games he’s played in over three seasons with the Cowboys. He has compiled 5,913 yards passing and 30 touchdowns while rushing for nearly 500 yards and three scores throughout his career.
Though the team will suffer without starting QB Chad Pennington handling the reins of the offense, the players could not mask their excitement in the new elements Carter brings to the table.
“I think the one thing he brings a little different to our offense is his ability to run and scramble and get out of the pocket, C Kevin Mawae said. “I think that is another thing that other teams are going to have to worry about. He came in and showed he can run the offense and he can make some plays and he can throw the ball.”
Carter feels obligated to pick up right where Pennington left off after sustaining a shoulder injury in Week 10 versus Buffalo. Carter downplayed the notion that he faces additional pressure heading into the second half of the season and the team flying high at 6-2.
“The only thing I have to do is make sure I am concentrating on the right thing and that is playing sound football on Sunday (by) taking good care of the football and going out and trying to get a win,” Carter said. “That is my main goal.”
Whether Carter will be able to perform efficiently beginning this Sunday versus a stout Baltimore Ravens defense remains to be seen. WR Justin McCareins has grown close to Carter since he joined the team and feels the offense should remain in tune with the new signal caller this week.
“We take reps every week with Quincy,” McCareins said. “We are out there running routes every day catching the ball from him. It is not like he is coming in off the street and we only have a couple of days to prepare for him.”
Fortunately for the Jets, Carter has had two months to grasp the offensive system implemented by coordinator Paul Hackett. Despite Carter’s proneness to turnovers, Hackett is confident in his backup quarterback and believes he will be effective running the same plays that Pennington ran so far this season.
“I am hoping in two months of watching it- now understand there is a big difference between watching it and doing it- but he has watched Chad run it beautifully,” Hackett said. “We are eight games into the season with three interceptions and lead the NFL in fewest turnovers. But that is a guy who has been watching and absorbing a system of how you do things. That will carry over I believe.”
Hackett emphasized how the players surrounding Carter on offense, particularly RB Curtis Martin, can help ease the pressure off Carter as he fills in for Pennington over the coming weeks.
“I think (Quincy) is a strong-armed quarterback with a magnificent arm and wonderful athletic ability,” explained Hackett. “We are going to feature that as best we can. I think based on what we have done to get to 6-2, the way we have moved the football and the way we have focused on Curtis and the running game. It would be foolish to make many changes.”
Speaking of Martin, the workhorse running back was upbeat about Carter’s opportunity after what he’s seen on the practice field and in the meeting rooms since his arrival.
“He is the type of guy that you want to trust because you see him working so hard everyday,” Martin said of Carter. “I definitely have been impressed with him thus far. I know he is looking to do well. He is looking to step in there and make plays for us, and that is we expect of him.”
Certainly, Carter is excited about his chance to show the Cowboys they made a huge mistake in releasing him prior to the start of the season. Immediately after the Jets landed Carter to a one-year deal back in August, Carter addressed his personal goals for this season.
“I'm looking forward to being a Jet and also helping this football team winning games however I can," Carter said. "I'm just so excited to have a job right now."
The Jets rolled the dice on Carter this summer hoping he can resume his once promising career. Now it’s time for Carter to reward the Jets for their gamble.