Like sand in an hourglass, comes another Jets QB controversy. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Jet fans are really having it teem down on them quite early this season. They have dealt with an injury to Chad Pennington, forcing him to sit out the game against Baltimore (I think he was delivered from Marshall in a box labeled "fra-gil-lay"). Jet fans also had to sit through a blowout loss to the team's most hated rivals, the New England Patriots, in week one. Then, as if that wasn't enough, they all had to hold their breath while sitting on the edge of their seats, and suffer through an ill-fated attempt at a fourth-quarter comeback, which could have even broken Cruella Deville's heart (that's right; I referenced a Disney character in a football column). Finally, thanks to Kellen Clemens' heroics this past Sunday against the Ravens, the Jets now find themselves stuck in the middle of a quarterback controversy. Albeit this controversy may only be amongst the Jet fans themselves, but the Clemens and Pennington camps are already beginning to divide up and squabble like the Hatfields and McCoy's.
You know, sometimes I wish I was born in Pittsburgh.
Now how do Jet fans untangle this mess so that they can sleep at night? How do they address the burning question of Pennington or Clemens? This is a hard one to figure out.
On one hand you have Chad Pennington, who has been an above-average quarterback for the Jets. He makes good decision and as a fan, you have confidence in his ability to perform and lead a team on the football field. You can easily say with assertion that Chad Pennington was the best Jet player on the football field in week one against the Patriots. The problems with Pennington are basically the same old story; he has a weak arm and he is injury-prone. In his five seasons as a starter he has only played one complete sixteen game schedule.
Kellen Clemens, on the other hand, has struck a chord with Jet fans. Clemens showed fans a lot of moxie down the stretch on Sunday when he fell just short of orchestrating an exciting comeback against a stingy Baltimore defense. (Of course when I say Moxie I don't mean the soft drink. Blech! Anybody ever taste it? It is like Birch Beer and toilet water with a little battery acid thrown in.) Clemens has proven that he is, at the very least, a capable backup and a viable option to start for the Jets. His potential combined with Pennington's injuries and the Jets overall inability to get over the hump and win a second round playoff game has contributed to the fans lack of patience with the status quo of the team. As they say, "the natives are getting restless".
Now I can see why some Jet fans are jumping on the Kellen Clemens bandwagon, although I suspect it doesn't have too much to do with his performance. I think it has to do with the inherent issues that every Jet fan has; and that is what I like to call "the grass is greener on the other side" complex.
Just think of some of these examples from over the last ten or eleven years: Jet fans wanted Glen Foley over Neil O'Donnell, Vinny Testeverde over Glen Foley, Ray Lucas over Rick Mirer (well….ok maybe I can't blame anyone for that one), and finally they wanted Chad Pennington over Vinny Testeverde. You also have to admit that Jet fans weren't always very well-mannered about those demands. The crowd reaction that occurred when Pennington got hurt and Clemens began strapping on his helmet can attest to that.
So why are Jets fans so trigger-happy when it comes to quarterbacks? Why do they believe that the guy on the bench, holding a clipboard, will take the team to the promise-land faster than the guy under center?
Well, maybe it is because Jet fans are tired from decades of wasted seasons. They are weary from wondering if their team will win from week-to-week. Their confidence is shot from too many years filled with hear-wrenching disappointment. Thanks to the struggles that this team has gone through most Jet fans need to become mathematical geniuses every year trying to figure out playoff tie-breakers while simultaneously tracking the win-loss record of every other team in the AFC using slide rulers and abaci. (I love words that are made plural by using "I" instead of "es". Sorry, I digress…)
For once Jet fans want that player who will step up and strip us of our collective insecurities. They watch Clemens play and see some flashes and start to fantasize about a new sheriff in town. The problem is that the old sheriff gave them that same feeling one crisp September afternoon when he first marched onto the field in Jacksonville. Pennington was yet another player to fill us all with hope and playoff dreams. Now he is just another brutal reminder of how hard it has been to be a Jet fan.
Pennington will not lose his starting job, at least not yet, but Jet fans will be watching closely and impatiently. They will be clamoring for some sign that he can still lead this team to the playoffs and beyond. Pennington's job won't be easy. Not only does he have to stay healthy but he has to turn the team around from a very unsavory 0-2 start. His only option is to defeat the Miami Dolphins this weekend and do it in a very convincing and distinct fashion. If he doesn't then you will most certainly begin to hear the cries for change.