Today Rex Ryan declined to name his starting quarterback for the New York Jets second pre-season game. The game isn’t until Saturday and rookie Geno Smith is still working back to 100% from a minor ankle injury, yet the conspiracy theorists are out. Rex and Marty Mornhinweg have gamed the system. The competition is over. The Jets didn’t even give Geno a fair look in Detroit. Mornhinweg basically admitted to it already, right?
People need to calm down, although this is generally difficult for Jets fans when the situation involves Mark Sanchez. There is no conspiracy theory. There is no stacked deck so Sanchez wins the job.
The Jets have diligently rotated both quarterbacks with the starters from day one of training camp. Smith started the Green and White Scrimmage with the first offense. Sanchez started the first pre-season game, as expected. The Jets went out of their way to keep their starting offense in for an extended period of time so Smith received work with them.
Was the play-calling relatively simplistic for Smith? Yes. He was a rookie receiving his first game action, so one could say it was smart for Mornhinweg to ease him in with a couple of easy completions. Two of Smith’s drives were torpedoed by penalties on his offensive lineman, were they in on the conspiracy? Early in the second half, the Jets dialed up a double play-action deep post for Smith AKA a home-run ball or a chance for him to show off his arm strength. He hesitated on the throw and scrambled, hurting his ankle in the process. Smith was then forced to leave prematurely before getting to work through the rest of the script the team had laid out for him.
It is too early to judge Smith negatively or positively, as a prospective starting quarterback for week 1. He threw 7 short passes against Detroit and will get plenty of more work with the starters against Jacksonville, likely beginning the game under center as long as his ankle keeps progressing.
Rex Ryan is in the business of keeping his job. If Smith is clearly outplaying Sanchez (he hasn’t yet), Ryan will play him. Right now, the battle has been relatively even, despite the horrific, putrid pick-six Sanchez threw against Detroit. There is no conspiracy, there is just a reality that Smith may not start until week 4 or week 8, which may not be the worst thing in the world for Smith or the team.
That being said, the competition isn’t over yet. Can we save the hysterics? The team has played one pre-season game.