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Favre-less Jets' QB options include in-house youngsters, aging free agents

It all proved a one-hit wonder, a Super Bowl-or-bust shot, a reach and grab for Brett Favre by the New York Jets in hopes that the 2008 season could wind up like it did for the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Smack in the middle of Super Bowl XLIII.

And though the Jets improved from 4-12 without Favre to 9-7 with him, the result left all parties unfulfilled.

When the Jets were 8-3 in November, and talk of a Jets-GiantsSuper Bowl engulfed New York, Jets owner Woody Johnson was feeling good and building fresh capital for that new stadium on the horizon. Now that Favre has retired for the second time in the last 11 months and made it a one-and-done New York deal, the Jets must look inward at quarterback. They must look outward.

If you believe, as Johnson said Wednesday in his news conference call, that simply the immediate exposure to Favre made his current quarterbacks better, then the three currently on the Jets' roster have a chance to step forward and claim the job.

That would be Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge.

Here is a scouting-report consensus from three current NFL general managers, who requested anonymity, on the Jets' in-house crew:

Clemens: "Has flashed some NFL ability at the position. ... When given the opportunity to play and take the job, did not. Would like to see a quarterback in that spot separate himself. ... At one point looked to be the next hot thing. ... Good footwork, quick release and strong arm. ... Can make adjustments on the run. ... Capable accuracy long and short. ... Could become a solid starter in the league."

Ratliff: "Just a potential guy. Not enough work to say he is a starter. ... Good, fast overhand release. ... Under pressure tries to force the ball. ... Decent passer."

Ainge: "Coming out of college projected a mid-round guy who you could take a shot to develop as a passer. Kind of hoping there. ... Has some upside. ... No one sure what he really is. ... In college was successful in part because of what his offense did. ... Big -- you like that -- but footwork and movement only OK. ... Very average arm strength. Hard to get a true handle on that because in college, he threw a lot of hitches and screens and boots. ... Did not see a lot of passion in his play. ... Did not show a lot of toughness. ... A lot of times at the position seems to play moving backward instead of forward."

The final consensus: Of this group, Clemens is "clearly the guy."

As the Jets look outward to fill the loss of Favre, the GMs most frequently mentioned six free-agent quarterbacks as the best fit:

Kerry Collins: "Veteran guy. ... Has been successful wherever he has been. ... Took the Giants to the Super Bowl, and that means something. ... Just finished a 13-3 season in Tennessee, and that means something. ... Good arm. ... Played last year on a Tennessee team led by defense and running the ball. ... Older guy. ... The Jets would have to be concerned about this: You just don't know when the clock runs out."

Byron Leftwich: "Tough guy, smart guy, great arm, good accuracy. ... Played well last year in the role given him by Pittsburgh. ... Issues with mobility and sometimes holds the ball too long, though he did less of that last year. ... A winning record. ... A lot of starts in the league. ... Looks hungry."

Jeff Garcia: "Older guy. ... Been in the playoffs. ... Unorthodox-type quarterback who throws a lot of balls on the run. ... Extends plays. ... Last year, not as much success late in the year. ... Had trouble finishing games strong. ... Mobility was not as good as it has been."

Charlie Batch: "Obviously, injuries are a concern. ... When he plays, he makes good decisions. ... Has playing experience. ... Another guy where age is a concern. ... You like what he has done, but the concern is injury and age."

Kurt Warner: "Has proven to be a better quarterback than people want to give him credit for. ... Excellent arm. ... Reads quickly, able to get the ball out of his hands. ... Able to make plays short and long. ... Not a mobile guy. ... Was a concern between his Super Bowl starts that if you get to him early, he can go in the tank. ... Took two different teams to the Super Bowl, and that means a lot. ... Both of those teams had excellent receivers and were a passing offense, so, if the Jets go after him, they had better get both of those things, or, at least, make note of that."

Matt Cassel: "Still a lot unknown. Not many starts there. .... First-time starter, and it was with a team that was outstanding in his preparation and approach. ... A lot of underneath throws with occasional shots down field. ... Excellent season. ... Got to be concerned with only a one-year history."

These are some of the discussions, the analysis the Jets will have as they move forward without Favre. Stay in-house? Draft a quarterback? Sign a free-agent one?

The Jets likely will take a combination, mix-and-match approach among these options.

And insist, unlike it ended with Favre, that their decision produces results for more than one year.

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