Geno Smith, left, and Mark Sanchez participate in a practice...

Geno Smith, left, and Mark Sanchez participate in a practice in Florham Park, N.J. (Aug. 19, 2013) Credit: AP

Former coach and longtime broadcaster John Madden had this saying, something that came to mind Monday after the Jets' quarterback merry-go-round had yet another player hop aboard and still another thrown by the wayside.

Remember when Madden used to say that teams that have two (or more) quarterbacks don't really have any? It was an acknowledgment that, absent a bona fide starter, a team essentially has nothing. And that even short-term success with multiple quarterbacks was a recipe for failure, simply masking a fatal flaw on the roster.

Well, the Jets now have four quarterbacks on their roster -- three who weren't here last year -- and there is little question that none is capable of winning a championship in the near future. Or the distant future, for that matter.

Brady Quinn was added to the mix Monday, another former first-round pick to join the injured Mark Sanchez, second-round rookie Geno Smith and Matt Simms, the free-agent son of former Giants great Phil Simms. Gone is Greg McElroy, released on the final cut after losing the No. 3 job to Simms. Oh, almost forgot. Former Packers backup Graham Harrell, who signed Wednesday, also is gone, not even making it a week in green-and-white.

Conspiracy theorists might argue that Quinn's presence represents a potential threat to Sanchez, who suffered a shoulder injury more than a week ago when Rex Ryan foolishly threw him into the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game behind the second-string offensive line against the Giants. Though that's entirely possible, given the roster churning at quarterback by first-year general manager John Idzik, the more logical assumption is that Quinn can at least offer a veteran presence to back up Smith, who is expected to start in Sanchez's injury-related absence. Simms has had a solid preseason but has zero NFL regular-season experience.

But with these Jets, you never know. Idzik started off with six quarterbacks after inheriting Sanchez, McElroy and Tim Tebow, signing Simms and veteran David Garrard, and drafting Smith in the second round. But now half that group is gone after injuries to McElroy and Garrard and the release of the much-ballyhooed Tebow, who has since been released by the Patriots.

But none of the players on the roster represents a significant upgrade over what they've had. Sanchez still is not ready to play because of his injury. Smith isn't ready, though he'll likely have to be because there are no more viable alternatives. He threw three picks against the Giants and took a safety, so none of the spin-doctoring going on inside the building convinces us he's even close to duplicating what last year's heralded rookie class of quarterbacks did as Game 1 starters.

Simms? Nice story in the preseason, happy for him, good guy, good bloodlines. But he needs more seasoning.

And now Quinn, who once was viewed as a "steal" by the Browns in the 2007 draft after the Dolphins bypassed him at No. 9 for wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. Uh, not quite. Quinn is on his fifth NFL team after striking out with the Browns, Broncos, Chiefs and Seahawks. He most recently lost a competition with Tarvaris Jackson for the No. 2 job in Seattle.

He's a good teammate and a positive locker-room influence; he's just not a viable option as a big-time quarterback.

The Jets hope Smith becomes that big-time presence, and they'll get the chance to see him in the starter's role -- if only by default because of Sanchez's injury. But let's not expect much from him, not in this situation, not with this offensive supporting cast, and not with a monster schedule the first nine weeks of the season.

The Jets figure to be underdogs against eight of their first nine opponents, starting Sunday with Tampa Bay, when Smith goes up against former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

It goes mostly downhill from there, so settle in for a long and bumpy ride. This will get ugly.


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