Quarterback Kellen Clemens will start Sunday for the New York Jets when they host the Washington Redskins at the Meadowlands. Head coach Eric Mangini made the announcement Monday, less than 24 hours after the Jets scored only three points against the Buffalo Bills.
"I talked to Chad, I talked to Kellen, and I talked to the team," Mangini said. "And moving into Sunday, Kellen will be the starting quarterback."
This will be the second pro start for Clemens. He was at the offensive controls in Week 2 at Baltimore when Chad Pennington was shelved with an ankle injury.
"Getting your first start out of the way I think is pretty big," Clemens said. "And now going into what will be my second start, I feel a lot better and a lot more confident."
In the 20-13 defeat, Clemens improved as the game went on and nearly led the Green & White back from a 17-point deficit. He recovered after an early interception against a good Ravens defense, throwing for 260 yards and a score while completing 51 percent of his passes.
"I thought it was an opportunity he created and he deserved," Mangini said of Clemens.
Clemens takes over the offensive controls from Pennington, the first-round pick from Marshall in 2000 who has been the Jets' starter since relieving Vinny Testaverde in a 2002 Week 4 contest at Jacksonville. The 2006 AP Comeback Player of the Year started 16 games last season and helped guide the Jets to 10 wins and a wild-card playoff berth.
"I'm disappointed and it's a frustrating time for me," he said. "But at the same time, it's not about me — it's about our team and our team moving forward, and I understand that."
At this season's midway point, the Green & White have just one win and have dropped five consecutive games. In their last two home games, losses to Philadelphia and Buffalo, they didn't register an offensive touchdown. Pennington has completed 67.4 percent of his passes and has compiled an 87.5 passer rating.
"I made this decision not based on singling out Chad for where we are but based on the fact that I think Kellen has earned this opportunity," Mangini said. "And I want to give him this opportunity. In no way is Chad totally responsible — we all are. There are plenty of things each person can improve."
The 6'2", 233-pound Clemens, a 2006 second-round selection from Oregon, threw two late interceptions against the Bills after being inserted into the game in pass mode with 3:32 remaining and facing a 10-point deficit.
At Oregon, Clemens threw 19 touchdown passes against four interceptions in 2005. He assumed the starting QB role in 2003, throwing for more TD passes and yards than any sophomore in school history.
This is the first time in Pennington's career that he's lost the starter's job due to a coach's decision and not due to injury. Nevertheless, Mangini said Pennington took word of his decision well.
"Chad, he's great. He handles everything with the same professionalism and poise," Mangini said. "I respect him so much for that."