Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Titans' Volek Would Help Jets

The New York Jets announced today that they've added Vinny Testaverde to their roster. The veteran QB has been tapped as a potential answer to the Jets' suddenly woeful quarterback situation, the team losing both Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler to injury in Sunday's 26-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. For the time being, third-stringer Brooks Bollinger gets the starting nod for the Jets, with Testaverde on board for security.

Testaverde, almost 42, probably can still play. After logging in 18 seasons with the Bucs, Cleveland/Baltimore, the Jets and the Cowboys, he's sixth on the NFL's all-time list with 44,476 passing yards. He can't move around much, but he's still got an arm and tons of experience. He could help.

But the real solution for the Jets' short- and possibly long-term problems is sitting on a bench with the Tennessee Titans. His name is Billy Volek, and he's probably the most underrated QB in the league. Volek (left) has spent the bulk of his career (he's now in his sixth season) holding a clipboard while watching Steve McNair take most of the snaps. Yet Volek shines when he gets a chance to play. Last season, with McNair nursing painful injuries, Volek appeared in 10 games, starting 8. The stats are impressive. He completed 218 of 357 attempts (61.1%) for 2,486 yards, with 18 TDs and 10 interceptions. His QB rating was 87.1.

McNair is as healthy now as he's been in years, and Volek continues to wither, itching for a shot at a first-string job. The Titans' former offensive coordinator, Mike Heimerdinger, now holds the same job with the Jets. He knows Volek better than anyone. It's a natural fit.

Let's be honest here. The injury to Pennington looks really bad. He may never play again. If Fiedler recovers, okay, but does anyone really think he's a top-echelon NFL QB? The Jets don't just have to look for help for this season--they need to look down the road for permanent QB relief. Volek is young, has some experience, and he's got a major-league arm. He played his college ball at Fresno State, and was the QB there just before David Carr came on the scene. Volek is unheralded, and virtually unknown, but his pedigree is serious, and he put up excellent numbers last year. Plus, whatever Heimerdinger is doing in New York, Volek can probably pick it up as well as anyone else. Maybe even better.

Acquiring Volek would probably cost the Jets a high draft pick. Maybe a couple of high draft picks. It might be worth paying the price. The team had high hopes going into this season, with every intention of building on last year's promising playoff appearance. Things look bleak now, with the team off to a 1-2 start and facing an upcoming road game against the Baltimore Ravens and their punishing defense.

The Jets have scored but 44 points in three games. Time to take emergency action. Billy Volek might be just what the doctor ordered.

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