Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Feb 2009

ESPN INSIDER: Clemens The Answer For Jets

This ESPN Insider piece details why the Jets should give Kellen Clemens a second chance to be their starting quarterback.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 11 Feb 2009

21 comments, Last at 15 Feb 2009, 4:16pm by Noah Arkadia


by Dennis :: Wed, 02/11/2009 - 5:29pm

I can't actually read the article since I'm not an insider, but as a Jets fan I thought they should have given Clemens the job last year instead of making the idiotic Favre trade. I said at the time, the best-case scenario for the team regardless of who they had at QB was 10-6 with a first-round playoff loss. So they should've given Clemens the job so they could see what he could do. Instead, they wasted a year with Favre and have no idea if Clemens is a capable QB, and they lost Pennington so they don't have an experienced backup.

by Benny (not verified) :: Wed, 02/11/2009 - 5:45pm

Couldn't agree more, Dennis (including the "i'm not an insider" bit). The irony is that part of the motivation to go with Favre was that Mangini was trying to keep his job. An extra win or two would help ensure this. Oops.

The ironic circle will be complete if Clemens leads the Jets to a playoff win over Cleveland next year.

by BettorFan Fantasy Sports (not verified) :: Wed, 02/11/2009 - 5:59pm

Over Cleveland? lol. We need to see Ratliff vs. Clemens to decide.

by B :: Wed, 02/11/2009 - 6:54pm

Does Clemens now inherit the "NotFavre" title?

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/11/2009 - 7:08pm

Yes, but not in the disparaging context in which it had previously been applied.

by Dennis :: Wed, 02/11/2009 - 9:03pm

Right, it's the "thank god he's not Favre" title.

by brett ratliff (not verified) :: Wed, 02/11/2009 - 8:18pm

sorry ESPN, i'm the answer.

by Dice (not verified) :: Thu, 02/12/2009 - 2:17am

I hope Clemens does well. He seems to have the physical tools, a big enough arm to handle the Meadowlands, he can run a bit, and moves in the pocket well when he senses the pressure. I'd like to see what he can do with a season as starter.

by Key19 :: Thu, 02/12/2009 - 2:41am

The only game I remember Kellen Clemens playing was against the Cowboys last season. He went 12/27 for 142 and an INT. I remember thinking "man, he just doesn't look like he's an NFL QB" after the game, and since I haven't seen him ever since, the opinion has stuck with me, right or wrong. I'll take your guys' word for it if you think he deserves a shot, you definitely know more about him than I do. But I'm not exactly going to assume the best about his prospects. Hopefully for Jets fans' sakes I'm pleasantly surprised.

Jets with Clemens over Browns in Wildcard Round would be epic though.

by are-tee :: Thu, 02/12/2009 - 12:17pm

The Dallas game in 2007 was clearly his worst. He did have a lot of positive drives in other games, playing with a poor OL, and with either Coles or Cotchery hurt most of the time. The Jets were 3-4 in his seven full games, and 1-8 in all the others.

by Key19 :: Thu, 02/12/2009 - 2:58pm

Well I'm glad to hear that. I guess it's just my misfortune to have seen his worst game. lol I will think better of him now!

by Good grief! (not verified) :: Thu, 02/12/2009 - 2:28pm

sure the favre move stunk to high heaven -- and yes, he played like a blind pass machine... but let's not forget what this was all about ... the main objective if you will... the Jets were trying to sell as many personal seat licenses as possible .. so I think their one year investment in favre paid off for them, no matter how painful it was to watch if you're a devout Jet fan like me.

God was he awful...

by Dennis :: Thu, 02/12/2009 - 3:44pm

Of course it was all about the PSLs. From a financial standpoint, it made a lot of sense. The Jets didn't get this much press at least since the 1998 season, if not the Namath years. From a football standpoint it was totally idiotic. But when you have as big a fan base as they do with enough people wanting to buy tickets, the football sense can take a backseat to the finances.

by Jetspete (not verified) :: Thu, 02/12/2009 - 3:53pm

I love how Jet fans have a short memory. on thanksgiving 07 the jets suffered the most embarrassing loss in the history of the franchise (30 some odd points on national tv). If somebody told you that exactly one year later, the jets would be 8-3, arguably the best team in the AFC and have Brett Favre at qb, you would all pinch yourselves. On thanksgiving 08, how many Jet fans, or espn shills stood up and said it was the wrong move? Clemens didnt look too shabby at times in 07, picking apart mediocre defenses in miami and cleveland and getting a signature win vs Pitt. But a healthy Favre is more valuable than a healthy Clemens. I'm hopeful Clemens can be the guy. He is certainly a better fit than a high draft pick (sanchez) or a retread veteran. But the jets schedule is brutal in 09, and thats regardless of who our 08 qb was. We went for broke, tried to win in a year with an easy schedule and it backfired at the end. Sometimes when you go all in with Aces you get beat on the river, but that doesnt mean it was wrong to go all in.

by Temo :: Thu, 02/12/2009 - 6:13pm

The real correct answer, of course, is they should have kept Pennington.

by Jim Glass (not verified) :: Fri, 02/13/2009 - 4:48am

"The real correct answer, of course, is they should have kept Pennington."


Then going into this year they'd have a third round draft pick more ... and one of the better QBs in the league (Ranked #2 by NFL.com, #2 by Wages of Wins, #5 by DVOA, #8 by Advanced NFL Stats, etc., take you pick) ... who'd be still young enough to play a couple more years while finding and grooming a successor.

And last year they'd have been in the playoffs, as Miami woulda finsihed 6-10 or 7-9, while the Jets would surely have avoided losing the dreadful Oak game and the year-end collapse that resulting from Favre's pick binge as he moved up from leading the league to lapping it in the last five games, to win 11 or 12 games.

So the $140 million spent on free agents would actually have bought something.

Now they have absolutely nothing. Clemens was absolutely dreadful when he had his chance -- ranked #42 by DVOA and #32 by NFL.com in a 32-team league. He has the problem no young QB remedies with experience: he couldn't hit the wall of a barn from inside the barn. He throws bounce passes to open receivers. I looked up other young QBs with his completion % to see how many had become good QBs and had to give up before finding any, it was a waste of time.

If "Insider" is touting Clemens, that convinces me it *isn't* a service worth paying for. But now he's the best they've got -- and they're out a third rounder too.

The Favre trade was a disaster -- a *predictible* disaster. In *each* of his last five seasons he had *collapsed* in the last five games. His td-pick ratio in the first 11 games combined, 97-61, in the last 5 games: 22-41.

Did anyone really think that was going to get *better* at age 39??? He did the exact same thing this year ... what a surprise!

I hope Woody sold a lot of PSLs by signing him -- because if he really thought this was a good deal football-wise the Jets need a new GM and new owner a lot more than they needed a new coach.

by Led (not verified) :: Sat, 02/14/2009 - 11:55am

Couldn't agree more about Pennington. He and Pat Ewing are neck and neck for most underappreciated athletes in NY sports history. I'm not as down on Clemens as you, but he did not play well in 2007 and, despite the misleading records, was clearly worse than Pennington. But it was a tough situation with black holes at LG and RT. Clemens could still be an effective starter, but it's kind of dopey to declare him the starter over Ratliff (or even Ainge) at this point. He just hasn't shown that much. Let's have an open competition and may the best man win. If a guy like Leftwich is available at a cap friendly price I would add him to the mix, but I wouldn't break the bank for anybody.

by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Fri, 02/13/2009 - 12:21pm

Personnally, I hope Clemens fails and leaves the league, but only because I'm sick of the name Clemens, especially in the over-saturated media environs of NYC.

by Jetspete (not verified) :: Fri, 02/13/2009 - 4:16pm

to jim and temo:

What has Pennington done in the league to make either of you think he is capable of winning a championship? He is a noodle armed quarterback that is incredibly bright and maximizes the skillset that he has. If you put him with an innovative offensive coordinator that plays to his strengths, he will win you 10-11 games because he almost never loses to lesser teams. Put him against a hungry defense in the playoffs and he's borderline terrible. Not one jet fan on earth thought he would beat baltimore in round 1. We've seent that act before.

Pennington also has a history of injuries. Remember, the only media guy in a decade who thought Pennington ever had any real shot of being a championship qb was Joe Namath when he was sloshed on national television. I'm also sure both of you thought keeping pennington was the right choice on thanksgiving when the Jets were 8-3. You "knew" the team would fold down the stretch. give me a break. the collapse had as much to do with poor play calling and an inability to stop the run or rush the passer as it did with favre. Unless pennington was also going to double as a 3rd down pass rusher, Favre was a better choice for the 08 Jets than Pennington.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sun, 02/15/2009 - 4:16pm

The Favre move looked bad in the beginning, when it was first made, good in the middle, and bad in the end. So, yes, it appeared to be working there for a second, but so what? Bottom line is, it didn't.

Also, what did Favre bring to the table at any point during the 2008 season that Pennington didn't have? It's been well-documented how Pennington threw far more downfield, and more effectively, than Favre, so what else is there? Pennington is smarter, more efficient, takes care of the ball better, and played as if he had the stronger arm the whole year.

So unless you're arguing that the Dolphins had a far better team than the Jets everywhere except at QB, I don't see how anyone can argue Favre was the right man for the job. Pennington made the Fins a lot better. Favre didn't make the Jets better; he probably made them worse.

by Led (not verified) :: Sat, 02/14/2009 - 12:16pm

What has Pennington done in the league to make either of you think he is capable of winning a championship?

How about when healthy he is consistently a top 10 DVOA quarterback? What more can you reasonably ask? Not every team can field the best QB in the league. If you think QBs "win championships" rather than teams, then I suggest you're reading the wrong web site.

The add Favre, dump Pennington move was more about PR and PSL's than about sound football. Favre clearly had more upside than Pennington, but the odds of Favre achieving that upside were small at his age and without off season training and a real opportunity to learn the offense. Not to mention the pressure I suspect was there from the owner to give Favre a bigger role when the team would've been better served focusing more on running the ball. I'll admit I was prepared to admit I was wrong about the Favre deal when they were 8-3 and had just knocked off the Titans, but the final result demonstrated that revolving your offense around an aging, undisciplined former star fresh off of his couch is not a high percentage play. I like the guy personally and think he takes an unfair about of crap on this site in reaction to the fawning media treatment, but I don't see how anybody could have viewed the decision to bring him in as anything more than a classic long shot.