The Jets used three quarterbacks against New England on Sunday. Yet none of them could get New York into the end zone against the unbeaten Patriots in a 20-10 loss. And it's uncertain who will start at Tennessee next Sunday.
Second-year player Kellen Clemens started, but his day ended after one attempt. On second-and-9 from the Jets' four on their first offensive possession, he was driven hard into the ground by Richard Seymour. Clemens' pass, intended for Brad Smith, went straight into the hands of Eugene Wilson, who easily returned it 5 yards for a touchdown to put New England (14-0) ahead to stay.
Clemens was announced as having a rib injury, although he landed hard on his left shoulder.
So that meant former starter Chad Pennington would be back in, right? Well, not right away.
On the Jets' next series, wide receiver Brad Smith, a record-setting college quarterback at Missouri, was in the shotgun in back of center.
The first play with this setup was quite successful, as Leon Washington went 49 yards to the New England 25. But the Jets netted only 6 yards on Smith's seven other plays.
"I don't think it kept us off balance," New England linebacker Adalius Thomas said of the option package. "We knew what it was."
"We like that package and thought it was another way to get the ball to the perimeter," coach Eric Mangini said, indicating it was something that was in the game plan before Clemens was hurt.
But the gimmick formation took plays away from Chad Pennington, who went 25-for-38 for 186 yards despite getting no snaps with the Jets' offense during practice before the game. He was impersonating Tom Brady for the scout team.
"You go from having no adrenaline at all," Pennington said, "to all of a sudden getting an adrenaline rush real quick."
But he couldn't translate that into any offensive touchdowns. His apparent 7-yard scoring pass to Justin McCareins with 2:32 left was overturned by video review. McCareins was ruled to be juggling the ball before he got both feet inbounds at the back of the end zone.
"The ball was slippery, but I thought I had it pinned in time," McCareins said. "Obviously not."
The Jets were without one of Pennington's favorite red-zone targets. Laveranues Coles was in for only one play Sunday because of his sprained left ankle. Coles had 12 receptions in the last two games and was active Sunday, but didn't play after making a cameo in the first quarter.
Mangini was non-committal after the game about who would start against the Titans, even though he said that Clemens' not returning to the game was a "coach's decision," implying that he was well enough medically to go back in.
"I'll have to look at everything and evaluate it," Mangini said of his quarterback choice for next week. "We don't really have as much information now as we will later on and I'll look at all of that stuff."
Pennington said, "I'm just going to be me. I don't have any control over the coaches' decisions. I prepare as hard as I can and do everything I'm supposed to do to be ready. And when I'm called on, I'll be ready."