Wayne Chrebet believes a veteran backup is the move, perhaps Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles.
Following his career-best 1998 campaign—a year that ended in the AFC title game—Chrebet had to work with three reserve passers, including the Jets’ full-time punter, Tom Tupa, for all but one period of the ensuing season.
The modern Jets got a taste of what life without Zach Wilson would be like this week, as their first two practices were overseen by a Mike White-James Morgan duology, while the second overall pick worked out his rookie deal.
Like Wilson, White and Morgan have not thrown a pass in an NFL regular season contest.
Chrebet and Sabo’s latest conversation was recorded prior to Wilson inking his deal, though neither entertained nor endorsed the deal of a lengthy holdout. Like many New York observers, however, Chrebet lobbied the Jets to add a veteran arm, if only to alleviate the respective passing burden on each quarterback during the arduous camp sessions.
He further explained that an additional camp arm could carry the continued benefit of serving as a mentor to Wilson, the Jets’ latest passing prophet.
“You can’t have three quarterbacks doing all the throws (in camp). You need a fourth guy, you need a veteran,” Chrebet said. “Some people say he doesn’t need a veteran but having a veteran that’s been in the league for a long time can’t do anything but help Zach when he gets to camp.”
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) July 29, 2021
Chrebet has the perfect name in mind: current Chicago Bears signal-caller Nick Foles.
The MVP of Super Bowl 52 figures to be the odd man out in Chicago’s passing set up, as veteran newcomer Andy Dalton and another first-round pick from April, Justin Fields, currently stand ahead of him.
Foles’ contract could scare the Jets from making a deal—as he carries a cap hit of over $17 million over the next two seasons—but Chrebet believes it would be well worth it, citing the impact he had on Carson Wentz in Philadelphia.
“I think he did a good job with Carson Wentz, and look what happens: injuries happen and he goes in there wins the Super Bowl,” Chrebet said of Foles. “You never know what’s gonna happen. But they got to have at least four arms in camp. It’s a lot of passes to be thrown.”
During that fateful 1999 season, the Jets lost Vinny Testaverde to a ruptured Achilles tendon in the first half of their opening game against New England. New York sputtered to a 1-6 start but recovered under the watch of third man Ray Lucas to finish with a respectable 8-8 mark. Chrebet tallied 631 yards on 48 receptions, three of which went for scores, after missing the first five games due to injury.
Chrebet remembering the late Greg Knapp
On a more somber note in the passing game, Chrebet and Sabo also paid tribute to the late Greg Knapp. The longtime NFL sideline staple passed away from his injuries sustained when he was hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle in California.
He was slated to be the Jets’ passing game coordinator this season after spending the last three years in Atlanta. Jets owner Woody Johnson announced on Twitter that the team would pay tribute to Knapp with a helmet decal bearing his initials.
Chrebet and Knapp’s NFL paths never crossed but the receiver was impressed with the way that the latter left an impact as both a coach and a human being.
“How many years he’s been in the league, how many teams he’s (guided) to success is one thing,” Chrebet said. “But as a human being, it seemed like he was very well-liked, he was a great guy, great family man. It’s a tragedy that something like that happens. I’m glad (the Jets) are thinking about him.”
Chrebet commenting on Xavien Howard’s situation, Marcus Maye’s future
Other topics discussed in this week’s episode included the Jets’ current receivers’ picture (Chrebet sees “six good guys” for Wilson to throw to), the possibility of the Jets making a play for disgruntled Miami cornerback Xavien Howard, and the “interesting” season that awaits safety Marcus Maye.
“It’s tough. He’s one of the standouts last year, definitely a leader in the secondary. But I trust what (general manager) Joe Douglas is doing,” Chrebet said of Maye, who will play this season on a franchise tag. “(Douglas) has got an idea of how he wants things laid out for the next couple of years. If he wants to save the money for something else, that’s fine.
“But safety is not the kind of position that commands that much money. I know Jamal Adams hasn’t even signed in Seattle yet. They traded all that stuff for him and he (probably won’t) sign there. It’s just the position where they want more than teams are willing to give. So hopefully, we find a way to keep (Maye). But if not, like I said, I trust with Joe Douglas is doing.”
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags