By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
If you’re in my age range and you have memories of the early 1970’s Jets’ team, you easily can recall the names of Al Woodall and Bob Davis (do you really remember, Davis?)
They were Jets’ quarterback insurance policies when Joe Namath went down with his flurry of knee injuries and other ailments. It was some of the leaner years in Jets’ history, but if you were a diehard fan, you still were glued to them.
Both Woodall and Davis were adequate replacements, one that were a shadow in comparison to Namath’s raw talent. However, both could keep you in games.
Fast forward some 50 years late to Zach Wilson.
The rookie phenom is pushing all the right buttons so far in Jets’ land, as the team anxiously seeks to justify his successor to Namath as the next great franchise savior. He has garnered a plethora of raves for his leadership and overall skills.
Wilson also has been part of a recent hype that will match him against former Jet Sam Darnold in the opener against Carolina.
The stage is set for Wilson, but what about Plan B?
What is Wilson isn’t ready to begin the season because he needs to make an entrance in Game Three or Four, or he suffers a freak injury in preseason that sidelines him for a few games?
Who is the Jets’ Woodall or Davis?
Presently, you would have to look at either James Morgan or Mike White? Huh? Morgan was a fourth-round pick from Florida International in 2020 with a big arm. White has bounced around since 2018 and the Jets waived him four times and resigned him later last season. Neither took snap in 2020.
Veteran Joe Flacco, who was the serviceable backup last season, is in Philadelphia.
GM Joe Douglas didn’t draft a quarterback and hasn’t signed another one either. Douglas does have some cap space still to play with.
The free-agent market became a little thinner with Blakes Bortles, Nate Sudfeld, A.J. McCarron, and Colt McCoy recently take off the market, and Alex Smith’s retirement.
Ironically, the Jets’ best choice may be former 49er Nick Mullens, who did an admirable job last season and obviously has ties to current Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh. The question is whether Mullens would want to be a caretaker for Wilson at the age of 26. Douglas may be able to entice him into a one- or to-year deal if he is still available at the start of training camp.
After Mullens, the thought of Jameis Winston or Robert Griffin III, or Matt Barkley isn’t appealing. Forty-two year-old Josh McCown could make a return to the Meadowlands for a year.
Former Texan Ryan Finley could be a wildcard, but the 27-year-old may be looking for a more enticing role. Finley would be a good choice if he get anxious in late July.
In all likelihood — barring unforeseen circumstances — Wilson will start the season. If he is ready, the Jets already have invested too much in him to sit.
Over the next month, Douglas has some shopping to do. The Jets may have faith in Morgan to develop over time, but they need a more seasoned veteran than White as a true insurance policy in the wings. They need a reliable backup while their Messiah learns the lay of the NFL land.
Considering the Jets could be a playoff contender if everything falls right, that need will intensify.
Find another Woodall or Davis to backup the anticipated franchise quarterback they have been seeking since 1977.