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Jets Must Add Veteran QB

by Photo of Gil Santos

The New York Jets should make it a priority to sign a competent veteran quarterback like Michael Vick.

Jets Must Add Veteran QB

For too long, the New York Jets have ignored the need to add a competent veteran quarterback as an insurance policy to their young quarterbacks. During the Rex Ryan era, the Jets have tried to fill the backup position with names like Kellen Clemens, Mark Brunell, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy, David Garrard and Matt Simms. None of them were competent enough or given a chance to help the Jets win games. This off-season John Idzik and the Jets' front office must make it a priority.

The role of a backup quarterback is increasingly becoming important especially in a passing league. You can not win without a decent quarterback in the NFL, so when your franchise guy goes down, you must have a good backup to steady the ship. Last season, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers were great examples why having a solid back-up matters. 

With Jay Cutler sidelined for half of the season with a torn groin muscle, the Bears relied on veteran back-up Josh McCown to keep the team afloat. While McCown went only 3-3 in the six games he started, he was exceptional in relief of Cutler and gave the Bears a great shot to make the playoffs. In eight games played, McCown threw for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns and 1 interception. He was so good that there was a little bit of a quarterback controversy in Chicago. 

For the Packers, things went south real fast when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 9. With Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien at the helm, the Packers went winless in their next three games until they re-signed an old friend in Matt Flynn. Flynn kept the Packers afloat with a 2-2-1 record, which allowed Rodgers to return in the final regular season game against the Bears and earn a playoff berth.

The Jets' rumored interest in Michael Vick and Josh McCown is an encouraging sign that they want to fix this problem. While Geno Smith showed improvement during the end of the season, the Jets must bring in a veteran presence. First, it creates competition for Smith and does not allow him to be complacent. Idzik preached about competition in all positions during last off-season and the message should be the same for this year. Second, a veteran quarterback gives the Jets insurance in case Smith does not play well or gets injured. During Smith's string of awful games, it would have been nice to have a solid back-up to go to. Third, he can serve as a mentor to Smith. It will be great for Smith to have someone to lean on for advice like he had with Mark Sanchez last off-season.

The Jets must learn from the experiences of the Bears and Packers and focus on acquiring a solid veteran quarterback. Here are a couple of quarterbacks that Gang Green could look to for the position:

Michael Vick - Vick would be the best fit for the Jets. Vick knows offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's system when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles and has been successful in it. Injuries have plagued Vick throughout his career, but it should not be a problem if he is not heavily relied upon to start the whole season. Ideally, Vick will serve as a veteran back-up quarterback that can come in anytime in case Smith gets injured or flat out stinks. Vick has enough in the tank to win a couple of games for the Jets, especially in an important year for head coach Rex Ryan. 

Josh McCown - McCown would be a great choice for the Jets' backup position, but it is highly unlikely he will sign the team. It is well known around the league, McCown wants to be back with the Bears and who can blame him. While McCown was brilliant for the Bears last season, you can credit Mark Trestman for some of that success. While McCown being in Green and White is improbable, it does not hurt to kick the tires.  

Chad Henne - Before you groan, Henne was actually decent for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season stats-wise, given the circumstances. In 2013, Henne threw for over 3,000 yards with a 60.6 completion percentage, 11 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Those are decent numbers for a quarterback that was on one of the worst teams in the league. Henne has a proven track record of being a decent back-up quarterback and would be an instant upgrade over Matt Simms.

Matt Schaub - Schaub is not a free agent yet, but is expected to be cut from the Houston Texans especially with a cap hit of $14 million for next season. Schaub played terribly last season to put it nicely. He set a league record for throwing a pick-six in four straight games. You would think it would be unwise for the Jets to show interest in Schaub after such a horrendous season, but Gang Green should at least take a look. Schaub is a former two-time Pro Bowler and 2013 was his first terrible season, so maybe with a fresh start in a new city, he could possibly bounce back.

Kellen Clemens -  Clemens was mentioned earlier as a former Jets' back-up, but he could be a dark horse option. Clemens did not play much for the Jets under Rex and when he did play for Eric Mangini, he wasn't very good. However, he looked like an improved quarterback with the St. Louis Rams when Sam Bradford went down for the season. Clemens went 4-5 and threw for 1,673 yards with 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Who knows if Clemens would be willing to come back New York, but he could serve as a decent back-up to Smith. 

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