Here at Turn On The Jets, we decided to take a page out of Robert Mays book over at Grantland (a polite way of saying rip his article idea off) by counting down the 115 days until the New York Jets kick off, with a daily reason to get excited about their return. Mays has the whole NFL to work with, we only have the Goddamn Jets…now there is a challenge, step your game up Mays!
We continue today with a look at the upcoming quarterback competition (NOTE you can see the entire series right here)
New York Jets training camp will be underway by the end of the week, which means we are tantalizing close to pre-season and more importantly Sundays spent in front of the TV for 12 hours watching football.
The primary storyline throughout camp will be the quarterback competition between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. This means tedious over analysis of every day’s passing stats, who took reps when and every quote from either player. People who want Sanchez to start or aren’t huge Geno fans will hang on any number or soundbite they can spin positively, while people who hate Sanchez and want Geno under center will do the same thing but reversed. Here is what to keep an eye out for during this competition, so you don’t get bogged down in the Daily News trying to make bold proclamations over somebody’s 7 on 7 stat line from a Tuesday morning practice…
- Distribution of first team reps - How large of advantage will Sanchez have early in camp and how quickly can Geno close the gap? I’d expect Sanchez to start out working with the first team overall (7 on 7, team drills and end of practice 2 minute drill) somewhere around 60-65% of the time. Geno needs to play well early and get that number closer to 50/50 before the first pre-season game.
- Green and White Scrimmage - A key marking point where Sanchez and Smith will get to go head to head. This is an opportunity for either player to make a strong statement or where somebody can begin to slide a little bit. If Smith plays Sanchez to a draw or outplays him there is going to be a strong push from the media and fan-base to increase his first team reps and move towards naming him the starter.
- First Pre-Season Game - I’d be shocked if Sanchez doesn’t start this game, regardless of how camp goes to this point. Look for something like Sanchez getting two series with the first unit and then Smith getting a series with the first unit and probably finishing out the half with the second unit. This game is on the road in Detroit, which probably actually plays to Sanchez’s favor as he won’t have to deal with his home crowd booing any misstep and wildly cheering for Smith when he enters the game.
- Second Pre-Season Game - Welcome to Met-Life! I’d guess Smith ends up starting this game, again regardless of what happens to this point. The Jets will likely give him two to three series with the first unit before letting Sanchez finish the half. Sanchez is going to be booed whenever he enters the game. How will he handle it? If Smith is playing Sanchez to a near draw by this point of the pre-season, don’t be surprised if he starts the following pre-season game.
- Third Pre-Season Game - The annual Jets/Giants game. Whoever gets the nod to start this game and gets extended run with the first unit is just about a lock to start week one. I’m not sure the Jets will formally “announce” their starting quarterback for the regular season opener but how the reps are handled in this game will tell the story. One thing to watch for, if Sanchez starts and appears to be on track to winning the job, will the Jets show Geno as a change of pace read-option quarterback? (Note, this is a terrible idea and was hopefully just something Rex Ryan said in a press conference and not something that will be enacted).
- Fourth Pre-Season Game - We’ll know going into this game who the week 1 starter will be. If it is Geno, he will probably play one series with the first unit and then sit out. If it is Sanchez, he probably won’t play at all and they’ll just give Geno all the first half reps.
Along the way on this battle expect to see anonymous quotes about who certain people in the locker room want to play, anonymous quotes from personnel executives criticizing each player’s performances in the pre-season games, anonymous quotes on each player’s practice habits and demeanor…basically many anonymous quotes. Before getting worked up over practice stats, remember this battle will basically be decided in the Green/White scrimmage and the first two pre-season games.
DAILY NEWS STORY PITCH OF THE DAY - 890 words from Gary Myers and Manish Mehta analyzing the rumored roommate pairings for training camp in Cortland. Geno Smith was originally supposed to room with fellow rookie Brian Winters but then asked to be with Greg McElroy so he could help him study the playbook? DIVA! Mark Sanchez is with Konrad Reuland? Typical LAZY California dorm atmosphere. Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson are buddying up for an air-conditioned dorm? 1st round glory boys who feel a sense of entitlement, inevitably learned from Rex Ryan’s pompous, show-man attitude.
RANDOM JET OF THE DAY – BRETT RATLIFF! - There was a scarily large contingent of Jets fans who thought Ratliff COULD be the answer heading into the 2009 season before Mark Sanchez was drafted. He is in the discussion for being a top 25 third string Jets quarterback in the past 10 years.