DANA POINT, Calif. --
"Everybody seems to think that we have major issues at that position," Ryan said at the owners meetings at the St. Regis. "I don't think the situation is what people think it is. I think we're going to be just fine."
Mind you, the two guys competing for the job since
Perhaps he's right. But I'm told that even though Ryan says one thing, he is not as firm in his conviction as he'd have you believe. One of the big things for him will be an April 16-18 minicamp, which falls the week before the draft. Ryan wants to see how Clemens and Ratliff perform, how they command the huddle, how their teammates respond to them.
That's critical because players have to believe in the person at that position. Paraphrasing Falcons coach
If Ryan comes away with a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, the Jets likely will opt for Plan B and pursue another quarterback through free agency, a trade or the draft. Until then, they will accentuate the positive.
"These young men have a lot of ability, they just haven't had an opportunity yet to really showcase what they can do," Ryan said. "Kellen Clemens was a second-round pick. I saw him up close a couple of years ago [when Ryan was] with Baltimore. We had a big lead and he brought that team back; if it wasn't for a dropped post route they would have tied the game against us late in the fourth quarter. I certainly know what his capabilities are.
"As far as Brett Ratliff, all I can go by is what I saw on tape. He had a 122.5 quarterback rating in the preseason, and that's hard to do against air. He's going to get a great shot at it. Out of those two guys, hopefully we'll get us a guy that we feel really comfortable with."
Ryan recalls his final season with the Ravens as reason for optimism. The team drafted QB
"Joe Flacco is the starting quarterback and we made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game and were close to beating Pittsburgh," Ryan said. "... We might have the next superstar right in our own building right now. You've just got to give him an opportunity."
That statement sounded a lot like something Ryan's father would have said. It was bold, out on a limb, a thumbing of the nose at conventional wisdom. Asked if he truly believes that Clemens or Ratliff has the potential to be as good as Flacco, Ryan said: "Everybody is different. But I truly believe that whoever our quarterback is, he is going to experience the same success that Flacco had. Because when you look at the success that we had in Baltimore, it was based on the team. It wasn't based on one position. That's what we're building here in New York."
The Ravens had an established defense led by two first-team All-Pros (linebacker
Ryan wasn't the only coach at the meetings trying to put an optimistic spin on what appears to be a tough situation. Rookie Buccaneers coach
"We've got two unproven guys:
The fourth quarterback has yet to be determined. There is speculation he could be Kansas State's
So might Morris be a proponent of building the team in the mold that has been so successful for Tomlin?
The wild card in all these situations is Broncos QB
If Ryan is unhappy with how his minicamp goes, and if the Bucs ultimately decide they're unhappy with their situation, it's not inconceivable that one or both will attempt to make a deal.
To quote the Falcons' Smith: "It's definitely a quarterback league, and the teams that are successful usually are the ones that have a quarterback who plays efficiently."