QB Brett Ratliff started off this offseason as prime product for the practice squad with the impending battle between fellow QB’s Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens. Gang Green took QB Erik Ainge in the fifth round of this years draft and it looked as if Ratliff was being pushed out of the picture. Fast forward three months to a blockbuster trade for a future Hall of Famer, the digression of QB Erik Ainge and a stellar outing against the Cleveland Browns in the preseason opener later; Jets fans will see that he’s now slowly nudging Clemens for the backup job to golden boy Brett Favre.
“I just try to go out and do my job. Any opportunity that they give me, I just try to take advantage of it,” Ratliff said. “I can’t ask for anymore than the opportunity to prove myself. That’s what I try to do each day.”
Head Coach Eric Mangini:
“I think he’s done an excellent job,” Mangini said. “There were a bunch of times that you probably couldn’t see it from where you guys were, but we had a run called, they brought down an extra guy in the box and he made the check.”
Ratliff has opened eyes all over the field during OTA’s and training camp, prompting those eyes to take notice and witness a possible QB battle for the No.2 spot, a spot which seemed to be a lock for Clemens when the Favre trade was finalized.
“Brett’s been doing a great job,” WR Jerricho Cotchery said. “He’s been working hard and responds to what the coaches are teaching him. Last year, he spent a lot of time on the practice squad playing receiver, not even quarterback. He’s becoming a good player.”
The Utah alum shined in Gang Green’s preseason opener, hooking up with camp standout WR David Clowney for two touchdowns for 70+ yards. Ratliff was 14-for-20, 252 yards, 2 TD’s in the Jets 24-20 win. Since then, he’s rarely had many mishaps, only throwing one interception in practice since before the Cleveland game.
“Compared to last year, my performance is a lot better,” Ratliff said. “What I’m trying to do is come out here and perform each day and get more consistent. Overall I think I’m doing pretty well.”
The fact that he could leapfrog Clemens into the two hole is not in his mindset right now.
“Stuff like that can always creep up in your mind,” Ratliff said. “My wife tries to remind me all the time, control what you can control. That’s what my attitude is on the field and when I go out and play – just go out and do my job. Control what I can control. That’s what I try to do each day.”
Speaking of his wife, Shailey Ratliff recently gave birth to their daughter Ellenor Shai on August 8th. Being an NFL QB by day and a new dad by night is new, but an interesting feeling to the second year QB.
“It’s going good,” he said. “Right now it’s kind of tough being in camp, but I see her a couple times each night. Once were out of camp I’m sure it’ll get better.”
According to Ratliff, the changes that have surfaced from in the recent days are welcomed, it being the chance to raise a child.
“Luckily right now, I’m in camp, so I don’t have as much time to think about it,” Ratliff said. “I think you’re talking about the baby, it’s amazing. Being a dad, being here, all of it is just amazing.”
Ratliff’s welcome to the NFL Moment, as Cotchery mentioned earlier, was playing wide receiver.
“Last year when I got signed to the practice squad I figured okay I’m going to get some reps against the starting defense and what not; I walked in the locker room and there was a white jersey in my locker,” he said. “They had me fill in at receiver whenever I can. That was definitely my welcome to the NFL moment.”
The second year quarterback has developed a rapport with Jets receivers, most notably WR Chansi Stuckey who has been his go to guy during OTA’s and traning camp.
“In the game you’d say it was Clowney,” Ratliff said with a laugh. “I’ve built a relationship with Chansi Stuckey and all of the receivers are great players. But I always seem to come back to him. When I get in there with the ones it’s great to throw to LC (Coles) and J-Co (Cotchery). I like throwing to all of them.”
Ratliff’s learning curve going back to last year has steadily been on the rise. Now, it’s only a matter of time if he’s ready to make another jump.
“Last year I was kind of swimming,” Ratliff said. “There was a lot of stuff that goes into the offense. I put a lot of effort into learning more about it. I think I’ve improved a lot.”
He’s had some help along the way.
“Up until the whole transition, I learned a lot from Chad (Pennington) and Kellen (Clemens) as well,” he said. “Last year, Marques Tuiasosopo, during the season, I learned a lot from him. He put me under his wing. In early training camp, it was definitely Chad. Now I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from Brett (Favre). He has a lot of wisdom I can learn from.”
The competition that has been brewing between Ratliff and Clemens made for good 11 on 11 drills, albeit it with the second teams. Comparisons are inevitable. Friction? Who knows?
“No,” he said. “Kellen is a great competitor. We practice as hard as we can and take advantage of the reps we get. I don’t think that we could ask for much more than that.”
On what it was like to have Brett Favre ask him advice on Gang Green’s offense.
“It was weird,” he said. “I expected it to be the other way around. He’s got to try to grasp the offense as quickly as possible. I was trying to translate the terms we use and it was cool.”