In Vinny they trust

The Jets believe in their new starting quarterback, and they are going to do everything they can to help him succeed. <p>

Vinny Testaverde has led the Jets to the playoffs before, so there should be no reason why he cannot do it again. This is the mindset of the New York Jets, as they prepare to start the 2003 football season.

Yes, it is true, Testavrde, is soon to be a 40 years old. It is also true, that Testaverde lacks the mobility of a quarterback like Chad Pennington.

However, Testaverde still has the same strong arm, which made him the number one overall selection, in the 1987 NFL draft.

"Vinny believes in himself," said Kevin Mawae. " The guy looks like he is 39 years old, He has the body of a 25 year old, and he is in great shape. Vinny has won before."

Curtis Martin, the Jets All-Pro running back, agrees with Mawae.

"Vinny is someone we are sure about," said Martin. "Vinny has lead this team before."

Testaverde has taken the Jets to the playoffs twice, in his five seasons with the club. In his initial playoff campaign, in 1998, he compiled the best numbers of his 16-year career.

In 1998, Testaverde, played in 14 games, and started 13 of these contests. He completed 61.5 % of his passes, threw for 3,256 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Testaverde finished that season with a 101.6 quarterback rating, by far the highest of his career.

In 2001, with Testaverde at quarterback, the Jets once again made a postseason appearance. He did not have the same personal success in 2001, as he did in 1998.

He struggled at times, putting up mediocre numbers. In 2001, Testaverde started all 16 games, completed 59.0 % of his passes, for 2,752 yards, threw for 15 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.

In 2001, Testaverde was slow picking up the West Coast offense, under new offensive coordinator, Paul Hackett.

If Testaverde can put up numbers like the ones he did in 1998, the Jets should be fine. There are those who will scoff at the notion, that another year like 1998 is possible for a 40-year-old quarterback, but the fact is the guy can still play.

The coaches need Testaverde to succeed this season, if the Jets are to make a serious push to the playoffs.

Edwards saw what happened in 2001, with Testaverde under the strict West Coast scheme of Paul Hackett. Edwards also knows that Testaverde, and Pennington, are two completely different quarterbacks, requiring different offensive strategies.

Although Edwards has not come out, and frankly said there will be changes in the offense this season, to benefit Testaverde, he did hint at it, Sunday, during a conference call with reporters.

"We are going to play more to Vinny's strength's this year," he said during the conference call.

"Vinny is a guy that has played a lot of football," he said. "He has thrown for over 244 touchdowns, started over 182 games, and passed for over 39,000 yards. He's taken his team to the AFC championship game.

With a quarterback like this, and a scheme designed around his strengths, Testaverde and the Jets, should be fine this season.


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