Mangini has refused to give a definitive answer as to who will start behind center this Sunday, but the indications are that Chad Pennington will get the nod. Clemens badly injured a rib last weekend and Pennington has seen the majority of snaps during the practice week.
Watching the remaining two games from the sideline is not the best scenario for a quarterback trying to infuse confidence in his coach. Clemens needs all the game action he can get and ending the season on the bench is not a place he would like to be.
"These last few days have been challenging," Clemens said on Wednesday afternoon. "As a quarterback and as a football player, you're always going to have your different bumps and bruises and different things that you're going to have to work through, and that's what myself and quite a few of the guys are doing. Like I said, I'm just trying to finish these last two weeks strong."
Despite being erratic at times, one thing that you can't fault Clemens for is the receiving corps around him. Unfortunately, he has not had the luxury of playing with the teams two best receivers often. Both Jericho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles have been dogged by injuries and even when they have been on the field, they have been far from 100 percent. In their absence, the team has relied heavily on Justin McCareins and Brad Smith to fill the void. Despite tremendous athleticism, Smith is yet to evolve into a polished receiver, and McCareins has been plagued by costly drops at inopportune times.
Although Clemens has shown glimmers of promise, his collective body of work over the past two months has been inconsistent. Most disturbing has been his struggles in recognizing defensive coverages and checking down accordingly; an element of the position that few handle better than his mentor, Chad Pennington.
When Mangini elected to start Clemens, obviously he expected the Oregon product to suffer through the regular rookie mistakes that most young quarterback's go through. However, after seven starts he probably would have liked to have a definitive answer as to whether or not the 24-year-old is the team's quarterback of the future. Unfortunately for Mangini and the Jets, the jury is still out.