He Made the Difference
2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
NY Daily News: Jets scrambling for backup QB (Q and Hutch Mention)
Jets scrambling for backup QB
BY RICH CIMINI
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Next week is the one-year anniversary of Chad Pennington's devastating wrist injury. The mere thought of that nightmare likely sends chills through the Jets' organization. Now, more than any time in recent history, the Jets need their starting quarterback to stay healthy.
Because their backup situation is a mess.
Unproven Brooks Bollinger, a question mark when healthy, became a bigger question mark yesterday with the news that he won't play Saturday night against the Colts because of a sprained right knee. The ill-timed injury, sustained in Friday night's preseason opener in New Orleans, robs Bollinger of a critical audition.
Which means Ricky Ray, who never has appeared in a regular-season game south of the Canadian border, is the No. 2 quarterback for at least one week.
"It makes you a little queasy, there's no doubt about it, because now you're one hit away from Ricky Ray (being) in the game," said Herman Edwards, quickly adding a softer assessment: "Now that's OK, too, but realistically, you know we're thin right now."
Edwards declined to provide a prognosis on Bollinger, who underwent an MRI exam yesterday, but it appears the sixth-round pick a year ago could return the following week against the Giants.
Trouble is, the No. 2 quarterback usually handles mop-up duty in the third preseason game, hardly the ideal way to evaluate him. Traditionally, the backup plays extensively in the final game, but do the Jets really want to wait that long before making a decision?
The front office is scouring the quarterback market for a veteran.
"You guys can look, too," Edwards told reporters. "You tell me who you want to bring in here."
It's slim pickings. The list of free agents includes Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Shane Matthews, Chris Redman and Rob Johnson. Carter is the most accomplished of the group, but the Jets don't appear interested because of his personal baggage.
The Seahawks' Brock Huard, his brother Damon of the Chiefs and Bucs backup Jason Garrett all could also become available if their teams decide to cut them.
The Jets could explore a trade, with Redskins third-stringer Tim Hasselbeck a possible target. Or maybe offensive coordinator Paul Hackett can convince Steve Beuerlein, who fits the West Coast offense, to come out of retirement.
The Jets took a huge gamble by not signing a veteran, thinking Bollinger and/or Ray would grab the job. Bollinger struggled in the opener, losing two fumbles, before hurting his knee in the third quarter. Ray also sputtered, throwing an interception.
Ray is not as mobile as Bollinger, but at least he has professional experience, having led the Edmonton Eskimos to the CFL title. Ray, 24, was with the 49ers in 2001, but he never got into a game.
Curtis Martin, who never says a bad word about anyone, struggled to form a politically correct answer when asked if he's worried about the backup situation. He stammered for several seconds before giving a lukewarm endorsement.
"We have to trust the coaches on that," Martin said, referring to Bollinger.
The coaches aren't sure about Bollinger, either. They like his toughness and mobility, but the Wisconsin grad has no regular-season experience and a fumbling problem.
"There's still some evaluation we have to do with Brooks," Edwards said.
And very little time to do it.
Originally published on August 16, 2004