To most, if not all Duck fans, Joey Harrington can do no wrong, and rightfully so based on his accomplishments at the collegiate level. Harrington finished his career at Oregon with an astounding 25-3 record as a starter, 3-0 in post season appearances, and will forever live in Quacker Lore as one of the greats in green. But, is Kellen Clemens better?
I believe the answer is yes.
Now before your wheels get spinning too fast, allow me to explain to you my thought process and also preface my explanation with an ode to "Joe College." In no way, shape, or form am I disparaging the accomplishments of Joey Harrington. He will forever be remembered as one of the great signal-callers on the college level. He embodied everything a college quarterback should be -- a great leader, a great student, and a phenomenal clutch performer.
When the game was on the line, you wanted Harrington under center. Whether he was putting up flashy numbers or merely "getting it done," he was winning and that's the benchmark all competitors are ultimately judged by.
However, his weaknesses in college have been his weaknesses in the NFL. He had a career completion rate of 55 percent at the University of Oregon, which translated into 54.7 percent with the Detroit Lions.
Kellen Clemens owns the completion percentage record for quarterbacks at Oregon with 61 percent and accuracy and decision making are considered his strengths.
Many of Joey's critics point to his decision making as his downfall in the NFL, speaking specifically to his propensity to check down opposed to going through his progressions and finding the second or third receiver. Many scouts viewed this as a weakness prior to the 2001 draft, writing that Joey "tends to throw into coverage as he does not clearly scan the field properly."
NFL scouts have sited that Clemens' solid decision making is "evident within the spread offense," an offense whose success is clearly tied to he who's running the show.
If you put Clemens' statistics up against Harrington's they're strikingly similar.
Joey threw for 6911 yards in his career, while Kellen threw for 7555. Joey threw 59 touchdowns to 23 interceptions, while Kellen threw 61 to 24. And the aforementioned completion rates were 55 percent for Joey to Kellen's 61. As you can see, although close, Kellen has an edge in every category looked heavily upon by NFL scouts.
Also playing in Kellen's favor is the situation he's being put into.
The New York Jets have a starting quarterback. They're not looking for an immediate fix; they're looking for a viable replacement in case their first option isn't there. Clemens will be allowed time to learn and get comfortable in his new surroundings (the NFL), a luxury Harrington was not afforded.
The New York Jets also have a new coach, Eric Mangini, who worked with Bill Parcells and most recently Bill Belichick, and comes from the New England Patriots, who've shown us all how a team should be run. Detroit…well, I think we all know how their team has been run.
Joey Harrington can still be a productive quarterback in the NFL. Maybe with an opportunity to start fresh, in an environment more suited to his strengths as a player and a person, he'll flourish, but I also believe Kellen Clemens has that environment now.
Clemens has a coach and an organization behind him. He has a situation, being a back up, which will allow him to ease into a league which can and has eaten up young players who've been forced into action without the proper tools to succeed, and he has the necessary tools to get it done on the field.
Clemens has a stronger arm then Harrington, he's quicker, more accurate, and his personality will mesh better than Harrington with the NFL game. And for those reasons Clemens will be the better quarterback.
Joey Harrington may have entered the league with more fanfare and higher expectations, but my bet is Kellen Clemens will be leaving with a shinier resume'.
Harrington or Clemens?
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