New York Jets Quarterbacks – Who Gives A Better Chance to Win?

Dan Marcus on what New York Jets quarterback gives the team the best chance to win

With the Jets Quarterback “Competition” coming (hopefully) to an inevitable culmination sometime after Saturday’s preseason game against the Giants, the length of time it has taken to arrive at any type of decision has caused a stir among members of the media. The Daily News’ Manish Mehta went so far as to call the whole thing a “farce,” a charade orchestrated by John Idzik to make it seem as though his Second-round draft pick wasn’t merely being handed the job. With Manish, I really can never be sure if he’s operating on information from one of his infamous unnamed sources or if it’s merely conjecture. Thus far, to the objective observer, it seems as though Sanchez is the “leader in the clubhouse” to get the nod Week 1 but according to Mehta’s report, all Smith needs to do is play a couple quarters of mistake-free football and the job is his.

Call me skeptical but I just have a tough time believing this, considering that Smith has not showed much (if at all) to prove that he 1) deserves the job and 2) can handle the rigors associated with being a Rookie QB in the NFL. If you ask me, there are two questions that the Jets’ brass and fans alike need to ask themselves before deciding who they want under center Week One:

A) Who gives us the best chance to win football games? (No brainer)

B) What is the most logical/practical move?

In regards to question “A,” the answer has to be Sanchez because of the fact that he is a known quantity, you know what you’re getting with him (for better or worse). You know that Sanchez can make plays and lead this offense but you also know that he is liable to make at least one bone-headed mistake per game. The situation this year is slightly different than it was last season, when Rex stubbornly stuck with Sanchez last season because he claimed that he gave the team “the best chance to win,” most people would be quick to disagree with him. However, this season is different because it may actually be true. Last season it’s safe to say that Sanchez was a broken man, a shell of his former self, playing with an offense not only devoid of weapons but also devoid of true play-caller as well as any starting-caliber NFL players. I mean, when you trot out Jason Hill, Chaz Schilens, and Jonathan Grimes on a given week it’s tough to win football games. Couple that with the presence/distraction of the most popular personal punt protector of all-time, it was a recipe for disaster.

This season the script has been re-written and the ship has been righted to an extent, out is Tony Sparano and Tim Tebow and in is an actual offensive play-caller in Marty Mornhinweg. As we’ve seen in the first two preseason games, Sanchez has the ability to complete a lot of passes in this system, which uses a lot of motion, spacing, and horizontal routes to get receivers open. In addition, the talent around him has improved for the first time since 2010, with the development of guys like Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates, and Jeremy Kerley. Add in the fact that it seems the cavalry may be coming sooner rather than later in the form of a Santonio Holmes early season return and the addition of his favorite target, Braylon Edwards (provided he makes the team), Sanchez may actually have some people to throw to.

Oh and wait, the running game has gotten better as well with Bilal Powell showing that he deserves some significant touches and the addition of the dynamic and powerful Chris Ivory. Sanchez now has a lot of guys he can lean on and go to, to move the ball down the field and put points up on the board for a change. The real obstacle that has kept him from running away with the job has been the turnovers and they’ve been bad turnovers. Pick-sixes to defensive linemen and Red Zone turnovers are absolute killers in this league and if it continues, it will make the leash that much shorter for the former First-Round pick.

On the other hand, we have Geno Smith, a guy with more raw ability and talent than Sanchez but a lack of experience in a pro-style system and playing against intricate NFL defenses. In limited time, Geno hasn’t really shown anyone that he is ready to take the reigns just yet and there is no doubt that there will be a significant learning curve for him. I’m just not sure that the dynamism and play-making ability will compensate for the lack of experience and overall readiness. Coming out of West Virginia, before the Jets even drafted him, I was of the belief that he would need to sit and learn for at least a year for no other reason than I had never seen him actually take a snap under center. Geno has the physical talent but the mental reps need to be there before you can throw his feet to the fire, which leads me to my second point: the practical decision.

Let’s assume for a moment that Manish is right and Geno Smith lights it up Saturday night against the Giants and is named the starter for Week One against Tampa Bay. That is a move from which there is no turning back, Rex coaching for his job will have to live with the inevitability of rookie mistakes that will surely cost him a game or two. Even if Geno struggles to the point that he deserves to be benched, they can’t bench him for Sanchez or they would be giving him the “Sanchez Treatment” all over again and they would then have two QB’s with fragile/damaged psyches. Again, the logical and practical move would be to start Sanchez, especially given how brutal the schedule is in the first half of the season. If he throws up all over himself, at least he will be saving Geno a beating from the Patriots, Steelers, and Falcons.

I have read the tea leaves and all of the signs say that the Jets should start Mark Sanchez in Week One because if it turns out to be a mistake, at least it is a reversible one. On the other hand, if Sanchez suddenly figures it out and goes gangbusters on the league, then the Jets have a very good problem on their hands. But then again, it’s just wasted breath because it’s all rigged anyway, right?

  • Joe Barra

    The “known quantity” is bad! They know Sanchez is bad! He can’t win games. He tends to have trouble not blowing games.

  • Sean F

    I thought the DN took Mehta off Jets coverage…How long to we all have to listen to this hack and his conspiracy theories and fake quotes

  • The Jets make everything much more difficult than it needs to be. If they’d just stop listening to the fans, the same fans who kicked their own official NFL mascot Fireman Ed, out of his home building by the way, they’d have named Sanchez starter by now. There’s no way an unpolished rookie who’s losing the QB battle on the practice field and hasn’t played but a handful of preseason game snaps should be still competing for the starting job going into the dress rehearsal game, let alone starting it. Sanchez has the experience, better O-Line, better OC and better weapons this year. Forget about last year and “bonehead” mistakes EVERY STARTING QB in the league will make those it’s how you come back from them and this year Mark has the system and players to do so. Geno simply is not ready yet and has to wait. The Jets need to officially put last season behind them, tab Sanchez the starter and go full steam ahead into a wide-open NFL field.

  • Joe Barra

    I’m pretty sure if you ripped Geno Smith out of West Virginia and inserted him into the Titans game the Jets would have won.

  • Hey Joe Barra, even if your unprovable Titans game statement were true, what does that have to do with THIS season? Nothing. Only thing that matters TODAY is who is the better QB for THIS Jets team THIS season.

  • Joe Barra

    Anybody who isn’t Mark Sanchez.

  • Well JB, the way the Jets are currently doing things, you may get your wish.

  • KAsh

    With Geno, you simply do not know what you get in game situations. What you do know is that Sanchez and Geno have been statistically neck-and-neck in practice, at least since one week ago. Sanchez has shown the ability to translate that to the field; Geno has not done it yet. So, as it currently stands, Sanchez should get the start week one. In fact, you might be hurting the offense by starting Geno Saturday.

    For those who are going to argue that Geno has not been given a fair shot, injuries are part of any competition. Winters’s injuries are legitimately costing him the competition. Hillard’s injury probably had a large part in him losing his spot to Bohanon. Hazelton would have probably been one of the backup receivers, beating out Spadola, Obomanu, or Edwards, if not for his season-ending injury. Just because Geno’s injury was slight and he could return after two weeks does not mean that he gets a mulligan. Jacksonville was his big chance at evaluation, and he missed it.

    I am ambivalent about letting Geno start against the Giants because, while it would allow us to fill in some of the blanks on him, it could also cause problems for the rest of the offense going forward. If Geno starts and he is not lights out – and I mean 14-15, to nine different receivers, for 200 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INTs – then Sanchez will probably get the start week one, undermined by either having to tire out the starters against the Eagles or not having significant time with them since Jacksonville.

    Of course, if Geno plays, you hope he plays well. But so far he has not shown that he can move the chains. Right now, Mehta aside, Sanchez does give you the best chance to win because we do not know if Geno can give anything at all. Mehta’s interest is in selling newspapers, so I get that a lot of people want a muddled situation, especially one that favors the rookie QB. But take the informal poll of former players by Cimini: out of 12, not one of them would start Geno because you do not throw an unknown into the wilderness and expect to win.

  • matr dontelli iii

    after the jacksonville game i decided enough was enough with sanchez. he has made every preexisting mistake twice along with creating new ones which may never be duplicated, all the while disgusting jet nation with his weekly mea culpas of “that’s on me”, “that won’t happen again” and “we’ll get that fixed”. however, danny is right, if we start geno there’s no turning back. greg seems a bit fragile, matt is inaccurate and mark is mark. i hardly think matt would produce more wins than mark and i doubt greg withstands the first half of the season before being injured. geno has hardly shown he is ready to start and likely won’t have ample opportunity to show it before week one. we are between a rock and a hard place. none of our choices are good ones meaning the chance for a good decision is really, really slim. our best hope is that rex get the defense straightened out real quick.

  • David

    I will say this too about the QB’s: If you look at the NFL today, how many teams in the NFL besides the NY Jets can you honestly say don’t have a very good idea who their starting QB is? Is there any debate on the starter in Denver? Green Bay? San Francisco? Heck, even worse teams last year like Kansas City? Philadelphia?

    If you don’t know by the 3rd preseason game who your starting QB is, you are in big trouble!

  • John C

    I agree with everyone on all of the potential problems starting Geno. Sanchez could have put this to bed if he didn’t make the two boneheaded mistakes last week – but he didn’t – which gives support to everyone who feels that Sanchez is incapable of eliminating errors. I know that no one thinks it’s a good idea to go into exhibition game 4, without choosing a starter, but it could play out that way. I never agreed with one series for starters in Game 4, especially when you have a rookie (Sanchez sat the 4th game his rookie year), or a situation where two people have split starter reps, have not separated themselves from each other (or for that matter, from McElroy or Simms really), and everyone is learning a new offense. I’d rather extend the evaluation into at least the whole first half of Game 4 (one quarter for each QB), than think that we can make the decision after Game 3, and then sit the winner in Game 4. We’re not the Broncos, Patriots, Baltimore, or even the Steelers, Bengals, Colts. We need all the work, and all the evaluation we can get.

  • Mark Phelan

    I was calling for Sanchez to start – until seeing practice today. Before today’s practice I had only seen Smith in one game, and frankly, he looked a bit slow and conservative.

    Today, sure it was practice, he was putting the passes right where they should be…couldn’t say the same about Mark. Smith looked crisp, confident and very, very accurate. I think he has the arm both for the deep pass and hits the short routes with precision.

    He has won me over.

  • keator

    Mark Sanchez has 89 total turn overs in 4 years of starting. Marinate on that

  • Frank Antonelli

    Everyone loves passing judgment before all the evidence is in. To say that Geno is not ready yet is premature. Let’s see what he can do against the Giants. Obviously 15 of 16 and 2 TDs in practice today is an indication that he may indeed be ready.

  • Harold

    I am not sure why folks are clamoring for a guy who wouldn’t even be on the team if he was not owed $8.75 million this year. We need to move on like the Bills, Cardinals and every other team that decided scrubs at QB kill any chance your team has at winning.

    Sanchez gives us the best chance to win, why? I have not heard a really good argument for him. He has played like this most preseasons and we know how the regular seasons turned out. Let’s stop grabbing the fools gold that is Mark Sanchez.

  • KAsh

    @Harold – because the Geno Smith side has no arguments, nothing to show, no real game appearances or anything that would allow one to say “hey, we can win with this guy.” There have been two arguments for Geno: Sanchez cannot start (the “anyone but Mark” argument) and the “we do not know what he brings” crowd (the absense of evidence is not evidence of absense argument). When the argument that sounds like Don Rumsfeld is the more logical one, you know your side is dead in the water.

    If Geno shows aptitude against the Giants, then there can be a legitimate argument. But until then, Sanchez wins due to no competition.

  • My man Keator making his way over from TJB, glad to see you around these parts.

  • twoshady18

    am i the only one who doesnt care which QB gives us “the Best Chance to Win” ™ ? Lets pull a Colts and just tank the season for the number one pick next year… lol.

  • Ed Rayner

    This isn’t about who gives us the best chance to win in 2013. This is about can Geno lead a revamped team in 2014 (which will have a lot of money to spend on Free Agents to fill a bunch of holes) and make a serious run in 2014 and thereafter. The best way to get Geno in a position to win in 2014 is to start him in 2013 and get him as much experience as possible. Also, maybe if you start Geno in 2013 you can also figure out if you need to go shopping for a QB in 2014 (either through free agency or the draft).

  • Jim G

    This article reeks of more “Sanchez excuse making”, all because the Jets organization ruined him. Make me a believer and explain to me how the Jets organization had anything to do with Marks’s decision making during the drive in the Jax game where he displayed the most horrible decision making ever by a QB as time was running out in the half.

    He has marginal talent, but it’s the inability to make sound football decisions that has caused him to be ranked in the bottom third of the league for every one of his NFL seasons. If only his football IQ number was as high as his turnover numbers.

    I get it, there are always gonna be Sanchez apologists who simply like the guy because he is a likeable guy, but at some point, you have to see that this guy fails the “eye test” as a competent NFL QB.

  • Dave

    I am tired of hearing that phrase, “the best chance to win.” It acknowledges that your quarterback situation is dire, but shows no real confidence behind the decision to support one or the other. That’s the kind of language you use when your QB1 is out on injury, and you have two fairly matched back-ups. But beyond that, it makes the rest of the team look bad by association.

    It may be a semantics argument, but damn it, I miss the confidence of the old Rex that said, ‘nuts to the odds and other teams. We’re the G-D New York Jets.’ Every interview or comment regarding the quarterback competition just sounds like an endless repeat of an apology we don’t need to hear anymore.

  • David

    Why can’t we say that either Greg McElroy or Matt Simms doesn’t give the Jets the “Best Chance to Win?” If you look at Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez, the only thing they have over McElroy and Simms is a draft position (Smith) and a contract (Sanchez). When I look at the QB situation– and for that matter a lot of other positions on the NY Jets– GM John Idzik’s whole “competition” idea is a bunch of hogwash and a joke.

    Answer me this: What exactly has Dee Milliner shown so far this preseason for the Jets to say, “Yes, he is going to start opposite Cromartie on opening day against Tampa Bay?” Blackmon and Ace Sanders made him look very foolish the other night against Jacksonville.

    Or how about David Harris– What exactly has he done that makes you say, “Yes, this guy should be a starter on the NY Jets defense?” All I saw the other night was a slow linebacker who missed tackles.

  • Fans say “we know what we have in Mark” and I say I’m not so sure we do. Here’s what we know: We know he’s played under a D coordinator/head coach whose idea of NFL offense is “ground&pound”. We know his 1st offensive coordinator was a rookie himself. We know offensive weapons he had when the team had success the organization let walk i.e. J. Cotchery, T. Jones, L. Washington, B. Smith, B. Edwards etc. We know they never drafted a top offensive talent to grow with him before last season and even that was a second-rounder (Hill). We know his 2nd OC was Sparano tagged with the Tebow experiment. Yes, we know he fumbles waaaay too much, but we also know this guy beat Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and even the overrated Philip Rivers in road playoff games and outplayed them. Despite the dopey headband and faux Joe Willie ‘stache, I’d like to see what Sanchez can do in a real NFL offensive system under Mornhiweg with blossoming talent around him this season before kicking him to the curb. If he doesn’t improve and lead the team to success, THEN turn to Geno.

  • Sean


    You also left out that almost all of last year was played for the most part without his familiar targets of Keller and Holmes.