Jets Pleased With Former Viking Fiedler

While Chad Pennington continues his comeback from shoulder surgery, the Jets like the decision-making ability of former Vikings quarterback Jay Fiedler.

When QB Jay Fiedler came out of the tunnel last Friday for his first preseason game as a Jet, he had a slight inclination to turn the wrong way.

"It was different coming out of the tunnel," the former Dolphin said. "For five years, I have come in and veered off to the right sideline. My body was leaning over that way when I first came out, but I'm glad I was on the Jets' side tonight."

See, that's the kind of quick, accurate decision-making the Jets were hoping for when the signed the veteran in March as a free agent.

Stability, dependability and smarts are a few of the reasons why the Jets signed Fiedler, who also was a backup for the Vikings in 1998, as the backup to still-mending Chad Pennington.

Former backup Quincy Carter was unpredictability personified, both on and off the field. Stability of the kind Fiedler brings is a positive for a backup quarterback, especially when the starter's health is a potential question mark.

Fiedler started against the Lions at Giants Stadium and directed the only touchdown drive of a lackluster affair, a marathon 16-play, 98-yard march.

"Any time you're out there for 16 plays, it's anything but typical," he said. "We were able to mix it up, to convert on third down. We ran the ball well and completed a lot of passes on that drive. We really didn't make too many mistakes at all, and that's what you have to do if you're going to go 98 yards and be out on the field for that many plays in a row. You have to minimize mistakes, and we were able to do that."

"He was taking what they were giving him," coach Herman Edwards said. "He was slinging it really well. Jay also did a great job of not trying to force it too much."

Fiedler was 7-for-9 for 69 yards with one interception and a 1-yard touchdown run. The pick was by James Davis off a tipped pass on the Jets' first series. Otherwise, Fiedler displayed the qualities the Jets are looking for in a backup. Although they keep insisting that Chad Pennington will be ready for opening day, Fiedler looks like a solid insurance policy, as he has gotten plenty of first-team snaps because of Pennington's rehab from shoulder surgery.

"I think I've picked up the offense very well throughout the months of off-season work and the last couple of weeks of training camp," Fiedler said. "It's an offense that suits me very well. I think coach Heimerdinger and myself are on the same page with the way we look at (pass) routes and the way we analyze the game."

Fiedler's teams are 37-23 in the 60 NFL games he has started, but only 2-3 in games he has started at Giants Stadium. All three losses were against the Jets, and both wins occurred during a three-week span in 2003, when Miami beat the Jets on Sept. 14 and the Giants on Oct. 5.

"It'll be nice to come out there and hear the cheers," the Oceanside, N.Y. native said before the game, "and know they're for the uniform I'm wearing. It'll be nice to be in front of the home crowd."

Who knows? Maybe those fans will be seeing more of him than they expect this season.


  • For all the talk of new coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's new, more aggressive offense, the Jets didn't take many shots downfield in the passing game against Detroit, especially when Jay Fiedler was in the game. However, the 98-yard touchdown drive was not reminiscent of former coordinator Paul Hackett's offense, as the Jets often bogged down in the red zone and settled for field goals with Hackett doing the play-calling.

  • Oliver Celestin, a former Viking, has had an excellent camp at SS, which may be one of the biggest reasons why the Jets finally decided they could no longer exercise patience with Jon McGraw, who was traded to the Lions last week for a 2006 conditional draft choice next year. McGraw is obviously talented, but missed 15 games over three seasons because of various injuries.

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