Clemens needs to play, but not due to Penny

How many quarterback's in the NFL are better than Chad Pennington?

You can probably name five for sure – Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees and Brett Favre.

You could make the argument that Pennington is somewhere in the next tier of quarterbacks including Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb, Jon Kitna and Steve McNair. You may or may not want to include Phillip Rivers in that group.

With that being said, you could say that Pennington, might be a top ten quarterback in the NFL (depending how you rank the second tier). Or at the very least, he's a Top 15 quarterback if you put him at the bottom of all the QB's listed above.

But many reporters and fans want this quarterback, who is clearly in the upper half of NFL signal-callers, replaced by Kellen Clemens. That's bizarre, and not thought through very well.

There is no question the Pennington has been inconsistent this year. But when a quarterback takes a team to the playoffs three of his first five years as a starter, shouldn't he be cut some slack? Especially, since Pennington doesn't have much of a running game to work, and a substandard defense.

Can you imagine a quarterback getting replaced after throwing three touchdowns and compiling a 111.3 rating against the Bengals? That would be bizarre.

Pennington is a really good quarterback with terrific football intelligence, great field vision and an amazing work ethic. Granted this hasn't been his best year, but based on the body of work during his career, you would think he would have earned more respect. That is clearly not the case the way he's being vilified in the New York market.

But if the Jets think Pennington is the "problem" surely many other teams would love to have this "problem" on their hands next season.

With their defense and running game, can you imagine how good Jacksonville could be with Pennington? Same can be said for Minnesota and Baltimore.

Pennington is the consummate game-manager, and when a team has a dominant defense, he would be a perfect compliment, providing 20-24 points a game.

Can you imagine how good Jacksonville, Minnesota and Baltimore would be this year with Pennington?

And perhaps the Jets can make a blockbuster trade with one of those team's in the off-season. If Pennington is dangled in a trade talks in 2008, the Jets should be able to get a lot in return. Quarterbacks as talented as Pennington are rarely made available.

That isn't to say the Jets would be willing to do this.

But in order for them to consider it, they need to see if Clemens has what it takes to lead this team. One good quarter in Baltimore doesn't supply enough evidence.

At some point, perhaps as soon as this week, the Jets need to make Clemens the starter, to see if he is the answer.

If he is, then the Jets can trade Pennington for some premium draft picks, and perhaps a pass rusher or nose tackle.

The Jets defense needs so much help, a blockbuster trade would certainly give them some ammo to start heading in the right direction. So while I think it wouldn't be the best football decision to trade Pennington, it might be something the Jets need to do.

And giving Clemens some starts this season is the only way they can consider trading #10. It would make no sense to trade Pennington if Clemens looks like David Carr when given a chance to start several games.

So that I why I'm jumping on the "Clemens should start" bandwagon.

And it has nothing to do with Pennington's ability.

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