Last week's OTA provided a glimpse into the alternatives behind Sanchez.
Last year, Kellen Clemens was called on to make one start after Sanchez was forced to leave the Buffalo game at the Rogers Centre early. Clemens knows what it is like to be a NFL quarterback, his start last year against Tampa Bay one of nine in his NFL career. During last week's passing drills in the OTA session, Clemens looks like the quarterback we've come to know and see the past few years. He hasn't made any significant strides or gains this off-season but the term ‘dependable' is aptly used to describe his efforts.
One thing painfully obvious during the 7 on 7 portion of the offense's work was the fact that Clemens has major timing issues to work out with the receivers. He consistently threw behind his targets and then "corrected" it later on in drills by throwing well beyond his receivers, especially on deep routes. Clemens did reasonably well in hitting his short to mid range targets on his progression but that has never really been an issue with the quarterback. Getting the ball down the field is an area he has always struggled in, and continues to do so apparently.
Going up against the first-team secondary, Clemens had difficulty in finding an open wide receiver and often didn't get settled in the pocket. One area where Clemens has done well in the past and did so again last week was in his roll-outs. His footwork has improved this off-season and his ability to get on the move and hit a target is perhaps the most underappreciated part of his game.
Erik Ainge had a quiet day, not taking too many snaps. When he did, he seemed unable to hit his receivers in stride. Timing issues here are a concern and he rarely looked downfield for the deep pass.
Perhaps it was for further evaluation, but Kevin O'Connell had a busy day last Thursday under center. After Clemens, O'Connell appeared to take more snaps then even Sanchez. It wasn't an awe inspiring performance by O'Connell.
On one play, the former Patriots' quarterback threw smack into triple coverage, earning a mouthful from a coach. On another play, free safety Brannon Condren broke up a pass from O'Connell and should have intercepted the ball. The decision making overall was suspect from O'Connell.
And while 7 on 7 drills are meant for the offense and can't be read into too much, Brad Smith and the Wildcat package did what they were supposed to do and looked fluid. Smith continues to turn that corner quickly into the open field and if he can follow second round pick Vlad Ducasse on pulls and designed sweeps, the Wildcat package can continue to excel like it did last year.
Smith looked very comfortable in the passing game as well, an obvious improvement from this time last year. His balls were crisp and tight and he looked solid in the eight to 10 yard routes, adding another wrinkle to the passing game.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for questions, comments and crude remarks at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012