If Pennington out, Jets have solid Plan B

Regardless of the extent of Chad Pennington's injury, the decision to start Kellen Clemens should be a no-brainer; but for reasons you may not expect.

If there is one direction in which the finger of blame should not be pointed for last Sunday's debacle in the Meadowlands, it is in the vicinity of Chad Pennington. In fact, if there was a positive that could be taken away from the game, it would be the play of Pennington.

Despite a viscous pass-rush, he looked as cerebral as ever, seemingly having complete control of the offense. While the game was still manageable, he was making timely checks at the line and seemed to be in sync with his receivers; namely Laveranues Coles.

After all, is it his fault that the defense was pushed around like a Food Emporium shopping cart?

With that said, despite the courage he displayed by re-entering the game after suffering the injury to his ankle, it would be in the best interest of the team to give Chad the week off.

Granted, the Mangini regime is beyond tight-lipped with their policies toward injury disclosure, and we are unlikely to find out the true extent of Pennington's injury. But by the way he has been hobbling around for the past few days; it's a safe bet to say he is far from one-hundred percent.

The toughness of Pennington has been well documented over the years; nobody questions his heart or desire. If the decision was left up to Chad, It's a safe bet to assume he would play.

The ankle is unlikely to be broken; a severe sprain is a more likely diagnosis. Either way, the best interests of the team are served with Kellen Clemens behind center this Sunday in Baltimore.

With so much of the team's success predicated on the health of Pennington, the Jets can't afford to see their quarterback lost for the season. And against a defense as lethal as the Ravens, playing him on Sunday would not be a wise move.

Pennington is not the most mobile quarterback to begin with, and when you factor in the injured ankle, plus the deficiencies of the left side of the line; he becomes a sitting duck for the likes of Terrell Suggs and the rest of the talented Raven defense.

Fortunately for the Jets, they have a nice option in backup Kellen Clemens. Albeit playing against mainly second teamers, Clemens had a terrific preseason. He threw four touchdowns and only two interceptions, in the team's four preseason games. More important than the stat line was his grasp of the offense. It's a quantum leap from his rookie season, and one that he hopes has prepared him for regular season play.

"That is definitely a positive [the preseason success]." Clemens said on Monday morning. "If your number is called and you have some positive snaps behind you, whether in the preseason or not, it definitely helps the confidence of a guy like me because I haven't played a lot in the regular season."

Despite what the fan-base wants to believe, there is not, nor ever was, a Jets quarterback controversy.

Pennington is the starter. However, given the marked improvement of their 2006 second round draft pick, they certainly have a viable 'plan B' and one they would be foolish not to employ this Sunday.

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