Our series of taking a deeper look at the battles going on at New York Jets training camp continues by focusing on the quarterback spot. Quarterback is certainly a position that never lacks drama with the Jets and this year it seems to be at an all time high. The former 5th overall pick from the 2009 draft Mark Sanchez is competing against this year’s second round pick Geno Smith to be the starter. Meanwhile, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms compete for the 3rd string spot. Both won’t be solved until preseason, but let’s see how things are projected and also how each look after few days of practice.
Mark is looking to be the New York Jets opening day starter for the fifth season in a row. In previous seasons, he won the job due to little competition, if any at all. This year he will have to hold off a very hungry second round draft pick in Geno Smith. While Smith clearly has more raw talent (his arm and mobility), Sanchez has the experience factor. While often criticized for his terrible decision making, Sanchez should have a leg up on this aspect against the rookie Smith. He’ll have to prove in preseason games he can take care of the ball and the job will most likely be his week 1. If he continues to throw interceptions or fumble, the hot seat might turn into the bench for Sanchez.
Everyone loves the newcomer and Smith has certainly gained a ton of momentum after a few practices. He’s shown what made him dominate many games in college with impressive arm strength, accuracy and mobility. What remains to be seen with Geno is his release of the ball in actual games, as he can take too long to get rid of the ball at times in a non-tackling practice. What’s gone unnoticed is the chemistry Geno has shown with second year wideout Stephen Hill. Hill’s development is vital to the Jets organization and if his game evolves with Geno under center, Rex Ryan will certainly take notice.
McElroy finally received some in season playing time last season but played to expectations (not very high). While he’s a nice game manager with limited ability, the west coast offense might be a nice fit for him. It’s safe to say he’s competing for the 3rd string job at this point rather than for significant time as a starter. Although he’ll be throwing to guys who most likely won’t make the team, keep an eye on him in preseason to see if he’s improved getting rid of the ball quicker, his biggest weakness.
I would have liked to see a UDFA quarterback in this spot rather than Matt Simms, but clearly the Jets are seeing something different than the fan base. Simms actually received more snaps in OTA’s than McElroy. It’s quite possible the coaching staff likes Simm’s potential as he has a stronger arm than McElroy. Much like I previously stated, this is a competition that will be solely decided on how each quarterback performs in preseason games.