All five New York Jets quarterbacks saw action this afternoon in the Jets' Green & White Game at Fordham University's Coffey Field.
And Kellen Clemens, who connected with Justin McCareins on two long scores, and Marques Tuiasosopo, who led the Green team to 10 points, both played well in the controlled scrimmage won by the White, 24-21.
After a slow start for the offense, Clemens and McCareins took advantage of a busted coverage to give the White a touchdown lead. The Green Team's defensive backfield lost McCareins and the veteran wideout found open space down the left sideline. Clemens, a second-year passer from Oregon, calmly surveyed the field and spotted McCareins. It was an easy pitch and catch before McCareins sprinted to the end zone.
"It's something we had talked about, something we had kind of seen on film a little bit," Clemens said. "When you have a deep threat like Justin McCareins, he is always someone you want to pay attention to."
The White received the ball to start the second half and Clemens kept a hot hand. His 27-yard pass to Brad Smith set up a 1-yard Leon Washington dive. It was a pass on which Clemens trusted Smith to go up and get the ball over CB Drew Coleman and that's exactly what happened.
At that point early in the third before giving way to undrafted rookie Brett Ratliff, Clemens had amassed a ridiculous stat line: 10 of 11 for 149 yards and a score.
"Kellen, I thought, looked very sharp," said head coach Eric Mangini. "That drive to start the second half was very good and his command of the offense — working with that group — I thought was very good."
Early in the fourth quarter, Clemens dialed up another long ball for McCareins. It appeared the receiver had a step on Andre Dyson, but the corner came back and ripped the ball from McCareins' hands.
"Oh, he had a step, he absolutely had a step," said Clemens. "Andre made a great play on that ball coming back and getting to it. I think the ball was a little bit underthrown on my part. It is tough to overthrow Justin with his speed, so that is definitely one I wish I back."
The next time Clemens got his hands on the ball, with his team holding a 17-13 lead, he led the White on what ultimately was the game-winning drive that culminated on a 39-yard score to J-Mac.
An official's call gave Tuiasosopo good fortune on his second possession. Linebacker Bryan Thomas, the team leader in sacks last season, got a good edge rush and forced the former Raider into a poor throw. The ball wound up in safety Kerry Rhodes' hands and the third-year defensive back had a clear path to the end zone. But an official gave Thomas a sack and that gave Tuiasosopo another life.
He took advantage of the opportunity, completing five of six passes on a scoring drive. A pretty 9-yard fade to rookie RB Alvin Banks, who got a step on linebacker Eric Barton, tied the game at 7-7.
"They were going man-to-man coverage and I like the matchup with a running back versus a linebacker," Tuiasosopo said. "I got good protection. When everyone does their job, it makes everything look real easy, but it felt real good to finish that drive off."
"Tui" kept the drive alive with three third-down conversions, including an 18-yard toss to Juan Wong on third-and-17.
"Different guys stepped up on that drive," he said. "It was a good drive for us. Unfortunately we couldn't get another [touchdown], but we did some good things. I have some film to look at and things to get better at."
With Tui still on the field before the half, he led a short drive that resulted in a Mike Nugent field goal and a 10-7 Green lead. They would not lead again but Tui did some good things in completing 11 of 18 passes for 103 yards.
The relationship between Clemens and Tuiasosopo goes back a few years. They are friends who won't let competition stand in the way of being good teammates.
"We get along real well. We have kind of a little history together," said Tuiasosopo. "We were at a football camp together when he was in high school and I was like a college counselor. We have some familiarity with each other. It's a great room. I think we all compete against each other very well and all push each other to get better."
"They are constantly helping each other," Mangini said of his quarterbacks. "They are constantly trying to help each other learn the offense and get better."
If there was an MVP award handed out today, it would probably have been handed to either Clemens (14-for-18, 205 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) or McCareins (3 catches, 119 yards, 2 TDs). But most Jets would probably echo Clemens' sentiments about playing somebody else.
"Let's go Jets versus somebody else for a change," Clemens said. "I am really looking forward to it."
The Jets host the Falcons Friday night at the Meadowlands in their preseason opener.