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Should Erik Ainge Be The New York Jets Starter?

Erik AingeEven the most confident of all Jets fans have to be wondering if they were sold a bill of goods on Mark Sanchez. The big New York debate since the draft has been Clemens or Sanchez? I have to wonder whether the best Jets quarterback isn’t even in the equation. Should Erik Ainge be the Jets starter on Week 1?

I wrote a blog immediately after the Jets drafted Sanchez criticizing them for the pick. I felt at the time that Sanchez was drafted way too high. Sanchez only had one full year as the starter at USC. Sanchez had a chance in his sophomore season to take the job from John David Booty and couldn’t. Even USC coach Pete Carroll recommended that Sanchez stay in school for another year for more polishing before joining the NFL.

Personally, I am surprised so many talented NFL general managers keep falling for this USC quarterback charade. Carson Palmer is an exception to the rule. Matt Leinart is looking like a flat out bust. John David Booty is on the chopping block in Minnesota. Why in the world would the Jets think Sanchez would be any different?

The problem here in my eyes is that USC is just too talented. USC has talented players that surround and camouflage their quarterback’s deficiencies. Sanchez looked great last year at USC, but Leinart also looked tremendous in his final year. I know it is almost impossible to ask a college kid to pass on a $50 million deal in exchange for dorms and exams. However, in the long run these quarterbacks would make more money with a successful NFL career.

This brings us to the Jets. The talk all pre season has been about the quarterback battle between Sanchez and Kellen Clemens. Why Clemens is even on the Jets anymore is beyond me? I have never seen anything from Clemens that leads me to believe he is a competent starting quarterback. He is no better than AJ Feeley to me, and Andy Reid at least has the smarts to move that kind of talent to third string.

I know it is pre season and I know it is the Ravens, but Sanchez did not look ready for prime time. Sanchez looked downright scared out there and was extremely erratic. I know he came back and threw a touchdown, but Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were on the bench. This is not the kind of performance you want to see from a quarterback that will see Miami and New England twice a year.

On the other hand, Erik Ainge continues to look great in pre season. I loved Ainge when he was at Tennessee. I think Ainge has the potential to be a starting NFL quarterback. Ainge has looked the sharpest of all three Jets quarterbacks thus far in the pre season. I know he is playing third string defenses, but he is also playing with third string talent on offense. Ainge knows how to win and had a winning acumen in college. That is intangible that can’t be taught.

The bottom line here is economics and I would be surprised if Mark Sanchez isn’t starting by the end of the regular season. It could only help Sanchez to have a season to sit and learn. Realistically, no good can come out of a situation where Kellen Clemens is starting. Clemens isn’t likely to have a winning season and if he does, Sanchez will feel more pressure on him next season than ever before.

At the same time, Jets fans have to wonder if the real starter is the guy just languishing on their bench. Dallas was smart enough to recognize the talents they had at third string quarterback. Only time will tell if the Jets put winning over money and make this a true quarterback competition.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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