Two messages came across loud and clear in the Woody Johnson/Mike Tannenbaum dual conference call at noon today and head coach Rex Ryan's separate CC with Jets reporters at 5:15.
One was a fond farewell to Brett Favre. Two was that his successor as the starting QB of the Jets may literally already be in the house.
A question about Favre's replacement was intercepted first by Mr. J, who said:
"Mike can answer that, but we've got three quarterbacks on the roster and I think we feel pretty good that with competition among those guys, we'll end up with a pretty good quarterback."
Then the general manager followed his boss.
"Philosophically, we look at the quarterback position very similar to the rest of the positions in that the best players will play at the end of the day," Tannenbaum said. "Rex will determine who is playing at each position, including the quarterback position.
"As Woody said, we have three guys on the roster that we have a feeling for and if and when we decide to add another quarterback, it will be determined as opportunities present themselves. We like what we have on our team, and we are going to try to improve the team at each position.
"Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Eric Ainge are here. They have been in the building and are working hard. We will move forward starting the first day of the league calendar with those three quarterbacks on our roster."
If that wasn't enough of an endorsement, Ryan came in strongly in support of a competition among those three.
"I think it's going to be a great competition between those three guys," the new coach said. "If something else comes along, then so be it, but we have confidence in those guys. You've got to look at the facts, having Brian [Schottenheimer] here still heading up our offense and all these quarterbacks having been in this system — Clemens is in his fourth year, Ratliff's in his third, Ainge is in his second.
"These guys don't have to be the solution. They just have to be part of the solution."
Other parts of the answer, Ryan said, are having "one of the top offensive lines in the league," an "excellent receiving corps" led by WRs Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles and TE Dustin Keller, and a backfield of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington that prompted the coach to speculate that "Maybe we'll run it a little more than we've done in the past."
Clemens was the first Green & White QB to react to today's retirement announcement. My partner Eric Allen and I double-teamed KC on the second floor of the Atlantic Health Training Center, where he spoke of being the kid back in Oregon who, when he and his schoolmates were choosing up sides and choosing the NFL stars they would be that day.
"I would choose Brett Favre," he said, adding that he's learned so much this season from Favre and now he's ready to apply it toward becoming the quarterback the Jets and their fans want him to be.
But while it's a sad day for him losing one of his idols, for himself he declared emphatically and with a smile, "It's go time." Read about Clemens in Allen's exclusive interview here.
You'll hear from Ratliff and Ainge as well. All three are already working at the complex and when they check in with us in the coming days, we'll let you know.
Rex Remembers 2007, Game 2
Ryan was asked about the second game of the 2007 season, when Chad Pennington sat out with his injured right ankle and Clemens got his first pro start against Ryan's burly, brawling Ravens defense in Crabcake City.
"I'm trying to get that out of my mind," Ryan said with a chuckle. "Funny, everything was rolling along pretty well for three quarters. We had some issues in the secondary, and I remember not only Clemens had a big game but so did Cotchery — we couldn't cover him. He gives me nightmares as well. ... We felt fortunate to win that game."
For a stroll down memory lane, here are the numbers for Clemens and J-Co that game, which wound up a 20-13 Ravens win:
|Clemens' Passing Line
|Cotchery Rec. Line
|First 3 Quarters
|18-9-84-0 TD-1 INT-40.0 rating
|19-10-176-1 TD-1 INT-80.2 rating
|37-19-260-1 TD-2 INT-60.6 rating
Here's one Brett Favre anecdote that I never used that a few fans asked about when he first arrived, and that was the yellow lining that peeked out from under his shoulder pads from time to time. It led many people to think he was showing his Packers colors (green and gold) even while he was a Jet.
I asked Favre about the pads when he sat with Eric Allen and me for our only interview on "Jets Two-Minute Drive."
"Those are the shoulder pads I wore in Green Bay for 16 years," he confirmed. "To be quite honest, I don't know if they've been refurbished or whatever over the years, but I can tell by the smell they're mine.
"A lot of guys do that when they go different places. They bring either certain pairs of shoes or pads. For a guy going into his 18th year, you're trying to keep as comfortable as possible, so I brought most of the pads."
Then the yellow, I asked him, is not a shade of Green Bay gold?
"It has nothing to do with the Packers," he replied.