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Chad, Kellen Carry the Wait of Cleveland


And this is how a quarterback controversy could begin.

The head coach declines to name a starter for the preseason opener, one contestant indicates he doesn't know when a decision will be made, and then you can't find the other contestant.

So as you're waiting for Kellen Clemens, you wonder if the standup guy has just decided to finally take a day off. He's nowhere to be found — can't see him on the field and someone informs you he might be in the showers.

Then about 45 minutes after practice ends, he emerges from the far field and greets reporters. He is asked about who's starting in Cleveland and he gives an answer. Oh, this is going to be some drama.

"They just signed him to a multiyear deal," he says. "Isn't Derek [Anderson} going to start for Cleveland? It's just my guess. It's why I read the defensive scouting report."

Good retort. But how do we explain the wait? Oh, KC was hanging out with family members and the media had an obstructed view of their catchup time. So the question that Jets fans are dying to know the answer to will go unanswered for at least another day.

Even though Eric Mangini has maintained since the spring that he'll select a QB based on a body of work, decisions like naming a preseason starter for just one game is followed like the Cuba missile crisis.

"There are a lot of factors that go into [naming a starter], so I'll get together postpractice and watch the tape," Mangini said today. "I'll spend some time with Mike [Tannenbaum] and with the staff, see what their input is, and then make a decision after that."

For their parts, Clemens and Pennington were their customary selves on the final occasion they'd gather with the media before Preseason Game 1.

"We'll see who goes out there and who goes out there second," said Clemens. "That will be all up to Coach, but it comes down to moving the team, managing the game, taking care of the football, obviously, and then scoring points."

"I'm not worried about it, I'm really not. I'm excited to play and get back out under the lights and try to build on the progress that I've made so far," said Penny. "I feel very good about where I am as a quarterback right now and the progress I've made, and I feel like I've taken some steps to really become better and help us win."

After an intrasquad game simulation Saturday, the Jets will face a different team for the first time in more than seven months. The quarterback competition, which began in March, will come to an end in a few weeks as opening day is less than one month away.

"We have been competing for quite some time now and it's a body of work. It started way back in the spring and I think it's going to be an overall evaluation," Pennington said. "I don't know how games are weighted, but they evaluate everything we do."

But how much weight do these summer games carry?

"I know the coaches do a lot of evaluation from practice, but they'll do a lot more probably from this game," Clemens said. "As far as how much weight goes into it, who knows? You'd have to ask the guy who's making the decision. But it's important to all of us to go out there and have a good showing."

Pennington led the first-string offense in the Green & White practice, but that doesn't necessarily means he'll lead the starters out in two days. Mangini may want to flip the script, give Clemens the nod and choose to bring back Penny next week against the Redskins.

"In the preseason game," Mangini said, "what you have that's nice is you have the ability to see the offense function, function with the playclock, function with the gameclock and function with the situations that aren't scripted."

Pennington, a 32-year-old vet, thinks they might be given the news Wednesday night in Cleveland.

"Based on my past experiences, it's been the night before the game when we have our quarterback meetings," he said.

Clemens, a 25-year-old cowboy known predominantly for his fastball, stayed with the off-speed before he finally departed for the locker room.

"Who knows? Maybe we'll both go out there. It might be a nice changeup."

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