How Many Starting QBs Have the New York Jets Had since Drafting Chad Pennington over Tom Brady in 2000?

In April 2000, the New York Jets used the 18th overall pick on Marshall University quarterback Chad Pennington. The New England Patriots drafted Michigan quarterback Tom Brady over 180 picks later.

Well, we know how that one worked out.

The argument that the Jets doomed themselves by picking Pennington over Brady has never held merit, in large part because the latter went so late in the draft. However, most of the league can only wonder what would have happened if they invested a late-round selection on a player who became arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

Brady spent 20 seasons with the Patriots and, at age 44, is still slinging touchdowns for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You’d be surprised to know how many quarterbacks the Jets have started in that span, although it might be a lower number than you’d first imagine.

The New York Jets have played musical chairs at quarterback since drafting Pennington in 2000

Outside of a torn ACL in 2008 and a four-game suspension in 2016, Brady never really missed any action with the Patriots. From the time he replaced Drew Bledsoe in 2001 through his final game in January 2020, Patriots fans could always count on Brady being in the lineup.

Jets fans can’t say the same at quarterback. As of Oct. 24, 2021, the Jets have had 18 different starting quarterbacks since the beginning of the 2000 season. That list includes Zach Wilson, the second overall pick earlier this year, and the man the Jets hope becomes half as good as Brady.

Pennington, for the record, ​​started 81 regular-season games from 2002-07 and earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2006. He also started five postseason games in that span.

In the grand scheme of things, eighteen starting quarterbacks in 22 seasons isn’t awful. It’s not great, but injuries and other ailments happen. The Jets only had five quarterbacks, including Pennington, start all 16 games in a season from 2000-2020.

There’s plenty of notable faces among the 18 Jets who have started at quarterback in that time

Some names, including Pennington’s instantly come to mind when you think of Jets starting quarterbacks. Wilson replaced Sam Darnold, the Jets’ starter from 2018-20 and the third overall pick three years ago.

Mark Sanchez led the Jets to two AFC Championship Game appearances in four seasons as the starter from 2009-12. Geno Smith gave it his all in 30 starts across the 2013-16 campaigns.

There’s plenty of other interesting names on that list. Vinny Testaverde started all 32 games from 2000-01 and turned the starting role over to Pennington after a 1-3 start in 2002. Brett Favre led the Jets to an 8-3 start in 2008 but struggled with turnovers and a biceps injury down the stretch. New York finished 9-7 and missed the postseason.

Michael Vick, of all people, started three games for the Jets in 2014. Ryan Fitzpatrick showcased his ‘Fitzmagic’ and threw for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns a year later. However, he followed that season with a ‘Fitztragic’ showing in 2016, throwing 17 interceptions to 12 touchdowns in 14 games and 11 starts.

The immortal Josh McCown started 13 games in 2017 and another three in 2018. Joe Flacco even got in on the fun last year. The Super Bowl 47 MVP threw six touchdowns and three interceptions in four starts.

Who are the other quarterbacks who have started a game for the Jets since 2000? Let’s see how many of these names you recognize.

  • Greg McElroy (2012) and Trevor Siemian (2019) each started one game
  • Luke Falk started two games in 2019
  • Quincy Carter started three games in 2004
  • Bryce Petty started seven games from 2016-17
  • Kellen Clemens started eight games in 2007 and filled in for Sanchez once during the 2009 season. Brooks Bollinger also started nine games, although all of those came in 2005.

Clemens, in case you’re wondering, is not related to baseball legend Roger Clemens. Interestingly, the latter pitched in his final regular-season game on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007, when he pitched six shutout innings in a 4-3 victory over the rival Boston Red Sox. Kellen made his first career start that day and lost 20-13 to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Jets can only hope Wilson pans out and is the long-term answer

The Jets drafted Wilson hoping he’d finally put an end to the musical chairs. It’s hard to blame them, especially considering the team has mustered a single winning season since losing in the 2010 AFC Championship Game,

Although he threw nine interceptions in his first five games, Wilson showed impressive poise and playmaking ability at times. The chances are that he won’t be Brady because no one is. But if Wilson can unlock the best part of himself, he can turn the Jets into a somewhat respectable franchise again.

If not? Well, Mike White would likely become the 19th quarterback to start for the Jets since 2000. It’s always a fun time in East Rutherford, N.J.

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