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Four Decades & Counting For Jets To Find Heir Apparent To Joe Namath

Wikipedia Commons/Labeled For Reuse

The country was celebrating its bicentennial when the New York Jets first began to look for the replacement for their franchise quarterback. Joe Namath had delivered the unlikeliest of Super Bowl wins seven years earlier and had been the toast of the town since his arrival from the University of Alabama in 1965. But “Broadway Joe” had fallen on some hard times later in his tenure in Gotham due to gimpy knees.

So when Namath was let go following the 1976 NFL season, the Jets thought that they would have a smooth transition to his successor Richard Todd. But he – and every additional signal caller who has come and gone since then – would not be the long term answer.

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As the team opens training camp, there are more questions than answers roster-wide, but none that loom larger than who will be behind center when the games count. Currently, there are three vying for what may be destined to become another dubious distinction and addition to a long list of failures who have tried in vain to take the baton from Namath. Veteran Josh McCown was signed as a free agent to be either the stop gap or teacher for one of two youngsters who are not viewed as franchise quarterbacks – Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.

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Petty started the last four games of the 2016 season and showed brief flashes, but he was basically thrown to the wolves when the team  – veterans and young players alike – appeared as if they had mailed it in before the half way point in the disappointing campaign. But that was at least some OTJ in comparison to what Hackenberg received. The second round draft pick only dressed for the season finale and was the scout team quarterback for the first 16 weeks of the season, not even running his own offensive playbook all that time.

RELATED: JETS: PUT A TENT OVER THAT CIRCUS

Headed into the new season, the Jets have been picked apart and picked last by practically every pundit. They cut loose practically every veteran player and have been accused of ‘tanking’ for a top-three draft pick in 2018 when at least three highly ranked quarterbacks are said to become available. So unless either Hackenberg or Petty establishes themselves, the process begins all over again a year from now.

Regular season

Season(s) Quarterback (Games)
2016 Ryan Fitzpatrick (11) / Geno Smith (1) / Bryce Petty (4)
2015 Ryan Fitzpatrick (16)
2014 Geno Smith (13) / Michael Vick (3)
2013 Geno Smith (16)
2012 Mark Sanchez (15) / Greg McElroy (1)
2011 Mark Sanchez (16)
2010 Mark Sanchez (16)
2009 Mark Sanchez (15) / Kellen Clemens (1)
2008 Brett Favre (16)
2007 Chad Pennington (8) / Kellen Clemens (8)
2006 Chad Pennington (16)
2005 Brooks Bollinger (9) / Vinny Testaverde (4) / Chad Pennington (3)
2004 Chad Pennington (13) / Quincy Carter (3)
2003 Chad Pennington (9) / Vinny Testaverde (7)
2002 Chad Pennington (12) / Vinny Testaverde (4)
2001 Vinny Testaverde (16)
2000 Vinny Testaverde (16)
1999 Ray Lucas (9) / Rick Mirer (6) / Vinny Testaverde (1)
1998 Vinny Testaverde (13) / Glenn Foley (3)
1997 Neil O’Donnell (14) / Glenn Foley (2)
1996 Frank Reich (7) / Neil O’Donnell (6) / Glenn Foley (3)
1995 Boomer Esiason (12) / Bubby Brister (4)
1994 Boomer Esiason (14) / Jack Trudeau (2)
1993 Boomer Esiason (16)
1992 Browning Nagle (13) / Ken O’Brien (3)
1991 Ken O’Brien (16)
1990 Ken O’Brien (16)
1989 Ken O’Brien (12) / Tony Eason (2) / Pat Ryan (1) / Kyle Mackey (1)
1988 Ken O’Brien (12) / Pat Ryan (4)
1987 Ken O’Brien (12) / David Norrie (2) / Pat Ryan (1)
1986 Ken O’Brien (14) / Pat Ryan (2)
1985 Ken O’Brien (16)
1984 Pat Ryan (11) / Ken O’Brien (5)
1983 Richard Todd (16)
1982 Richard Todd (9)
1981 Richard Todd (16)
1980 Richard Todd (16)
1979 Richard Todd (15) / Matt Robinson (1)
1978 Matt Robinson (11) / Richard Todd (5)
1977 Richard Todd (11) / Matt Robinson (1) / Marty Domres (2)
1976 Joe Namath (8) / Richard Todd (6)
1975 Joe Namath (13) / J.J. Jones (1)
1974 Joe Namath (14)
1973 Al Woodall (6) / Joe Namath (5) / Bill Demory (3)
1972 Joe Namath (13) / Bob Davis (1)
1971 Bob Davis (7) / Al Woodall (4) / Joe Namath (3)
1970 Al Woodall (9) / Joe Namath (5)
1969 Joe Namath (14)
1968 Joe Namath (14)
1967 Joe Namath (14)
1966 Joe Namath (13) / Mike Taliaferro (1)
1965 Joe Namath (9) / Mike Taliaferro (5)
1964 Dick Wood (13) / Pete Liske (1)
1963 Dick Wood (12) / Galen Hall (2)
1962 Johnny Green (8) / Lee Grosscup (4) / Butch Songin (2)
1961 Al Dorow (14)
1960 Al Dorow (13) / Dick Jamieson (1)

Post-season

Season Quarterback(s)
1968 Joe Namath (2-0)
1969 Joe Namath (0-1)
1981 Richard Todd (0-1)
1982 Richard Todd (2-1)
1985 Ken O’Brien (0-1)
1986 Pat Ryan (1-1)
1991 Ken O’Brien (0-1)
1998 Vinny Testaverde (1-1)
2001 Vinny Testaverde (0-1)
2002 Chad Pennington (1-1)
2004 Chad Pennington (1-1)
2006 Chad Pennington (0-1)
2009 Mark Sanchez (2-1)
2010 Mark Sanchez (2-1)

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