AFC East: Jeff Garcia
Last week, former NFL player and quarterback instructor Jeff Garcia ripped the New York Jets for keeping Tim Tebow on their roster.
"If there's going to be competition at the quarterback position, it's not going to come from Tim Tebow," Garcia said. "Having Tebow there (last season) just became a distraction, more of a circus show. It's their decision, but from an outsider looking in, having Tebow there doesn't bring anything positive. It just brings distraction.”
This week, Steve Clarkson, who worked with Tebow personally, also laid down the verbal gauntlet on the Jets.
“I think in Tim's case, they walked him into New York and said, 'We've got four plays for you. You execute these four plays and that's all you're going to get,'” Clarkson said, according to a report in the Newark Star-Ledger. "Well, when you walk on the field and that's all you practice, and you don't get any meaningful reps and you walk into a game and basically the defense is telling your offensive line basically where the ball is going to go, it's pretty depressing and it doesn't give you much room for hope."
Are these statements a coincidence? Probably not.
In some ways, Clarkston may be talking on Tebow’s behalf. The popular quarterback with a large following most likely shares the same vision and frustrations with the Jets but would never utter Clarkston's words publicly to protect his image. However, there is a good chance Tebow had these kinds of conversations behind the scenes during workouts.
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, this is possibly a sly way of Tebow getting his point across. Publicly, Tebow can explain to the media how happy he is to still have an opportunity with the Jets and that he will continue to work hard in New York unless he's traded or released. But privately Tebow's opinions are probably much closer to his quarterback intructor who currently are lashing out to the media.
For the record, Clarkston was way off on one evaluation. He has a conspiracy theory that Tebow was purposefully sent to New York to ruin Mark Sanchez's career and the Jets’ season. Clarkston seems to forget that Tebow had a choice between the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York, and Tebow chose the Jets.
But other than that, it's hard to disagree with the points Clarkston (and Garcia) made over the past week. Tebow never got a fair shake in New York, and it's simply best that the two sides part ways sooner than later.
The Miami Dolphins get three days to recover from Sunday's carnage and significantly less time to come up with a game plan for Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears in Sun Life Stadium.
Expect several roster moves in the coming hours for a team that lost its top two quarterbacks, star left tackle and maybe its sacks leader.
General manager Jeff Ireland will be combing the streets for free agents. It's hard enough to find somebody to contribute on the fly, but to get them up to snuff on a playbook within 72 hours is practically impossible.
JaMarcus Russell, Patrick Ramsey and Chris Simms all have been reported as quarterbacks of interest for Miami. The United Football League season ends in a couple weeks. That would make former NFL starters such as Daunte Culpepper, Jeff Garcia, Brooks Bollinger, Tim Rattay and Josh McCown available. Former starter Cleo Lemon is almost done with his Canadian Football League season.
Starting quarterback Chad Pennington suffered a shoulder injury. Previous starter Chad Henne went down with a knee injury. Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long reportedly dislocated a shoulder. Outside linebacker Cameron Wake hurt a hip.
The Dolphins have been scrappy in staying above .500 and in the AFC playoff race. But their 29-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans might have been their Waterloo because of the injuries.
The Dolphins won the game but still failed to gain any ground on the New York Jets or New England Patriots, who won on the road to remain two games ahead of the Dolphins.
Now Miami must scramble to field a team and identify somebody on its roster who won't get Tyler Thigpen destroyed. Vernon Carey played left tackle in 2007, but hasn't seen time there since Long was drafted first overall in 2008.
Check back for updates on the Dolphins' roster.
That would appear to be a winning formula. Yet the Jets are on the outer fringes of the AFC playoff race. They're tied with the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens at 7-6, but all three of them have tiebreaker advantages over the Jets and easier remaining schedules.
The Jets probably won't make the playoffs, and when they look back on it, the reason will be their decision to start Sanchez all year rather than have him serve as an apprentice.
Maybe one day he'll prove to be worthy of his "Sanchise" moniker, but he killed them in 2009.
The Jets didn't need a superstar. All they needed was someone who wasn't capable of throwing four or five interceptions a game. Behind workhorse back Thomas Jones, the Jets are averaging 169.1 rushing yards a game. They're limiting opponents to 264.7 total yards and 160.4 passing yards a game. The Jets rank 27th in team passer rating at 62.4.
Sanchez, during that repugnant stretch in which the Jets lost six out of seven games in October and November, threw six touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. Take away one of those games -- say, the five-interception performance in a sudden-death loss to the Buffalo Bills at the Meadowlands -- and the Jets are in control of their own destiny.
I'm not convinced Kellen Clemens, who started Sunday's blowout over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of Sanchez's knee injury, would have been the answer. Clemens would love to be considered an average NFL quarterback.
But what if the Jets had signed somebody such as Jeff Garcia or somehow convinced Brett Favre to give it another whirl?
Didn't think so.
Hoyer's performance in Thursday night's 38-27 victory over the New York Giants underscored the Patriots' decision to waive Kevin O'Connell four days earlier.
Hoyer took every snap for the Patriots, completing 18 of 25 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. The undrafted rookie from Michigan State finished with a 115.8 passer rating.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis made a strong bid for a spot on the 53-man roster with a great game. He rushed 29 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 22 yards.
But the real intrigue is at backup quarterback. Tom Brady is returning from reconstructive knee surgery and gave Patriot Nation a scare last weekend, when Washington Redskins behemoth Albert Haynesworth slammed Brady's throwing shoulder.
As impressive as Hoyer's complete game was, the significance might have more to do with the future of Andrew Walter. The Patriots signed the former Oakland Raiders quarterback four weeks ago, but haven't given him an opportunity to prove himself in exhibitions.
Walter didn't throw a pass in any of the Patriots' last three preseason games. He went 5-of-9 for 62 yards and zero touchdowns in the second exhibition. Not exactly a convincing audition.
So who will be Brady's backup? Hoyer seems more logical than Walter at this point, but acquiring a veteran via free agency or a trade is more plausible.
A few options exist. National Football Post analyst Michael Lombardi presented the going rates for possible candidates to join the Patriots. The list includes Tarvaris Jackson, Jeff Garcia, A.J. Feeley, Luke McCown, Tyler Thigpen and Joey Harrington.
Clemens and Ratliff won't have to worry about another All-Pro trumping them on the depth chart, but what they do need to be wary of is the possibility their quarterback battle still will become more crowded.
The Jets still have the draft coming up, and they have either interviewed or plan to interview all of the top quarterbacks in this year's class.
If the Jets select a quarterback, especially if they trade up to do so, that will be trouble for Clemens and Ratliff.
Both of them joined the Jets under general manager Mike Tannenbaum and have worked with returning offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, but whoever the Jets draft will be the first selection of new head coach Rex Ryan's tenure.
Furthermore, Ryan has predicted Schottenheimer will be a head coach next year, meaning Ryan expects to have a new coordinator calling the plays in 2010.
Then there's the possibility of bringing in a veteran. Now that Cutler is spoken for, the Jets might be willing to consider other game-worn options. Jeff Garcia, Byron Leftwich and J.P. Losman are among the unemployed former starters.
The Cutler drama is over with the Jets, but the quarterback battle could evolve yet.
|Dick Jauron is confident things will work out with Terrell Owens in Buffalo.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
DANA POINT, Calif. -- AFC coaches sat down Tuesday morning for their annual media breakfast at the NFL owners' meeting.
Nobody was more popular than Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who was greeted by a horde of reporters, microphones and cameras when he sat down at his table in the St. Regis Hotel. He wisely didn't bring any scrambled eggs. He wouldn't have any time to eat in between comments about Jay Cutler.
Forty feet away, Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron was handling a more manageable scene. He still was one of the more popular coaches, but reporters casually would drop in for a bit, ask a couple questions and move along.
The line of questioning from about a dozen reporters was familiar. They all wanted to know how the Bills were going to handle Terrell Owens.
Jauron generally was good-natured on the subject in between quick bites of mixed fruit, but his eyes narrowed when NBCSports.com columnist Tom Curran pressed him on the risk Owens presents in the context of broken quarterback relationships left behind.
"I would start by saying he's also won a lot of games wherever he's been," Jauron said sharply.
Curran asked, "At what price?"
"That's not my thing to decide," Jauron replied. "We're not winning enough games. Our goal is to fight and get into a playoff spot."
"Trent will be capable of protecting himself," Jauron said. "We're a football team. He's not alone.
"All those issues, we're not planning on this going the way you're saying it's going to go. We're planning on it working. If it doesn't work, just like any player we bring in, we'll deal with it when it comes up."
The Bills would be bucking history, Curran noted.
"That's all right," Jauron said. "I don't mind bucking history."
Other T.O. tidbits from Jauron throughout the course of his breakfast:
Edwards has played in 24 games and started 23. He has experienced a fair share in his short time in the league, but he hasn't been exposed to anything like Terrell Owens, who signed a one-year deal with the Bills on Saturday.
The most turbulence Edwards has endured stemmed from his competition with J.P. Losman.
He never has had his sexual preference publicly questioned or his competitive drive ridiculed. He hasn't had a receiver shriek at him on the sidelines in full view of the cameras and fans. He never has been accused of a conspiracy to not distribute the ball to a specific receiver.
Good luck, Trent.
Because Edwards is young and still developing into a game-worn starter, I figured it would be appropriate to review the ages of the quarterbacks who have been exposed to -- and quickly grew tired of -- Owens' act in the past.
Here are the ages of Owens' quarterbacks on the date they started their first game together:
- Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers: 34 years, 9 months, 21 days.
- Jeff Garcia, 49ers: 29 years, 7 months, 9 days.
- Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles: 27 years, 9 months, 18 days.
- Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: 26 years, 6 months, 8 days.
- Edwards, Bills: 25 years, 9 months, 7 days (estimated based on first Sunday of NFL season being Sept. 6).
Owens' past three quarterbacks have been glad to see him leave, and each of them was older and wiser than Edwards.
Their relationship will be pivotal to how well the Owens move plays out in Buffalo. But based on the receiver's me-first track record, Edwards will be the one doing all the work to make sure everybody stays happy.
New England Patriots
- The Boston Globe's Bob Hohler reports Patriots special teams captain Larry Izzo will testify in the Barry Bonds trial.
- NFL.com senior columnist Vic Carucci writes the Patriots should navigate the Matt Cassel situation with relative ease.
- Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan writes "if you'd told me last week that a Bill would be arrested, [Marshawn] Lynch would have been atop the list."
- Fox Sports senior writer Alex Marvez writes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell won't look kindly on Lynch's arrest for possession of a concealed firearm.
- Buffalo News reporter Allen Wilson previews the NFL scouting combine from the Bills' perspective.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly lays out 10 questions heading into free agency.
New York Jets
- Ohm Youngmisuk of the New York Daily News compiles reports on Brett Favre and Jeff Garcia.
New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum was coy on the subject of acquiring a new quarterback, but he and owner Woody Johnson conveyed optimism in a Wednesday afternoon conference call that Brett Favre's replacement already is on their roster.
|Al Pereira/Getty Images|
|Kellen Clemens is considered a candidate to replace Brett Favre.|
"We do feel good about the players we have," said Tannenbaum, who traded for Favre and then released veteran Chad Pennington to make room in August. "If the opportunity presents itself [in free agency], we'll measure it carefully and do whatever's best for the Jets."
Said Johnson: "We've got three quarterbacks on the roster, and we feel pretty good with competition among those guys we'll end up with a pretty good quarterback."
Favre's decision will clear precious salary-cap space for the Jets, who were over and needed to trim by the end of the month to be in compliance with league rules. Clemens, Ratliff and Ainge aren't expensive, and the Jets might be content to move forward without spending for a free agent.
The draft is another avenue the Jets could explore. They own the 17th overall selection. Top-rated prospect Matthew Stafford of Georgia will be long gone by then. Southern California's Mark Sanchez likely will be off the board, too. But strong-armed Kansas State passer Josh Freeman should be there.
"If and when we do add another quarterback, those situations will present themselves when they come up," Tannenbaum said. "We like what we have on the team. We will try to improve what we have on the team at every position, but we're going to move forward with those three quarterbacks on the roster."
Here is a breakdown of the Jets' QB depth chart:
- Clemens was drafted out of Oregon with the 49th overall selection in 2006. He started eight games in 2007, taking over when Chad Pennington got hurt and then becoming Eric Mangini's quarterback of preference -- but with trepidation. Clemens completed 52 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He had a 60.9 passer rating.
- Ratliff wasn't drafted out of Utah. He spent 2007 on the practice squad. While Clemens struggled and it became evident the Jets didn't want Pennington to win the job in training camp, Ratliff stood out. He outplayed Clemens. It would have been interesting to see who would have emerged in a battle between the two.
- Ainge, a fifth-round draft pick from Tennessee, had a difficult rookie campaign. Favre's arrival marginalized him. A foot injury sent Ainge to injured reserve. In November, he was suspended four games for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances.