New York Jets – Quarterback Decisions Draws Near

The New York Jets quarterback competition is heading into the final stretch run

The New York Jets quarterback competition has received an expectedly high level of scrutiny and criticism. It has been a battle filled with conspiracy theories, poor facial hair decisions and an ankle injury. Yet, there is a good chance we will know who the Jets starting quarterback will be against Tampa Bay by this time next week.

Many Jets fans have seem to forgotten that Geno Smith was a second round pick. He was a second round pick for a reason. “Not Being Mark Sanchez” isn’t enough to be handed the starting job. Do you really want another young quarterback coddled by this organization? Smith has had an up and down Summer and has thrown a grand total of seven passes in pre-season action after missing last week’s game with an ankle injury. All signs point to him starting this Saturday night against the New York Giants and likely seeing at least a half of action with the first unit.

So what does he need to accomplish to make himself a viable option for week one?

It is hard to pinpoint specific stats. Smith needs to move the ball consistently, which Mark Sanchez has done but avoid the killer turnover, which Sanchez hasn’t done. Beyond that, he needs to thrive in areas that Sanchez has either struggled in or not shown yet this August. Smith has the better arm of the two. He needs to flex it and complete a few passes that Sanchez is simply physically unable to…that means, don’t hesitate when the deep post is called like it was against Detroit, let the ball fly. Smith will also help himself by executing the screen pass, a big part of Marty Mornhinweg’s offense, properly and taking advantage of the read-option plays the Jets will likely call for him. Smith isn’t a running quarterback but the Jets are going to use read-option from time to time, like many teams in the league, and if he can take off for a first down or two, it will help give him an advantage over Sanchez.

The bottom line is that Smith is currently the underdog. He needs to make a distinct impression Saturday night. Sanchez has spent more overall time with the starters and as of now is more ready to go for week 1. If Geno does make the needed impression, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rex Ryan had him play a few series with the first offense against Philadelphia the following Thursday, just to further sharpen him up.

If Smith doesn’t distinguish himself Saturday and Sanchez is the guy for week 1, perspective needs to be kept. Again, Smith is a second round quarterback. He is not RG-3. He is not Andrew Luck. Most people did not expect him to be ready to start immediately coming out of the NFL Draft. It could very well be better for his career if he is given another 6-8 weeks to further master the offense, watch the game from the sideline and then comes in at some point to relieve Sanchez.

Remember, if you start the year with Smith and he struggles heavily. Who are you turning to? You are going back to Sanchez, who isn’t going to be on the team next year. Geno Smith is going to start at some point this year. It is a question of “when” not “if.” Yes, there is always the chance Mark Sanchez starts the season, plays very well and the Jets are in playoff contention throughout the entire year. This is the NFL, anything can happen. However, it is more likely the Jets are going to hit a rough patch in the middle of the season, specifically when they face Atlanta-Pittsburgh-New England-Cincy-New Orleans five weeks in a row. If that occurs and Sanchez is struggling, the Jets can then give Geno the reigns in the second half of the season and hope he shows enough to head into next year as unquestionably “the guy.”

Overall, the situation is a little more fluid than many fans currently seem to think. The most likely scenario is that Mark Sanchez starts the season under center and Geno Smith finishes it but a big night from the Jets rookie on Saturday could very well change that. Let’s see if he can answer the bell, it is the first of many major tests he will likely have in New York.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • Jay

    Perfect tone. Logic spot on. Can’t say anything more. Well done.

  • MAP

    Your post makes perfect sense. Let’s hope the Jets brass are as thoughtful. I would think Geno would really have to sparkle and make us believe he can be “the guy” all year to get the nod in week #1. Else, to your point, who would we go to? I’m not ready to give up on this season before it starts.

  • Doug

    Excellent post, couldn’t agree more. People are so enamored with anyone but Sanchez that they’re willing to rush Geno and hinder his development. If Geno shines against the Giants, i’m all for starting him week 1. If not, we’re all in with Sanchez til he gives a reason not to be. We can make some noise this season.

  • KAsh

    I think what Geno has to do to have a shot at starting week 1 is a little lower than what you describe. He does not have to outplay Sanchez, just show that he can manage this offense.

    Regardless of who wins, the team realistically cannot expect much from its QB this year. Sanchez has flashed skill in this offense, but his turnovers limit him and he has not demonstrated that he can stop them. Geno just needs to move the chains consistently. As long as he gets it done, it does not matter how he looks doing it. If he can accomplish this, he can get himself in the conversation. As long as he shows competence, he creates some doubt about whether he is ready to start or not.

  • Tom

    Not only was he a second round pick but the Jets 3rd pick in the draft….Unless his camp/preseason performance WOW’s everyone away,he should not start week one. If Smith does not WOW everyone Sanchez needs to lose the job, not get beat out ….Great Article. Spot on.

  • John C

    I’ll throw out some specific stats that would keep the Geno discussion going: 2 Tds, 65% completions, 140 yards, 0 turnovers (and no buttfumbles, or wasting of FG opportunities). Of course, if Sanchez self destructs, the stat line could dip a bit. If Sanchez does start the season (and I won’t be surprised if he does), then I hope he plays the whole year – that would mean we’re in the playoff hunt. In Geno’s first game, he looked accurate, but somewhat uncomfortable. I’m not sure he can put up the stat line he would need against the Giants

  • Anthony

    You seem kind of determined that Sanchez, with mistakes, is completely incapable of actually performing well in this NFL on a more than random basis. He has never been a good Quarterback, and yet this team has thrived many in at least half of the seasons he’s lead them.

    His dimwitted Quarterbacking was enough for 2 deep runs to the playoffs, and nearly a third. Now with the best offensive coordinator he’s had, a run game, a strong line and a good defense, you think its a stretch that he could stumble into 9-10 wins?

    I think if we make the playoffs, Sanchez stays. If Sanchez stays we have to hope for an Alex Smith next year, and the following season we get ANYTHING for mark.

  • Nikolas

    I disagree. Mark is not in the future plans of this team. So, the Jets have to find out what they have in Geno. If Geno gets enough playing time then you can make an informed decision of whether or not he is the future. And this way the Jets will have a much better idea what to do in next year’s draft.

  • twoshady18

    I see Geno as a backup plan for this season in case Sanchez falls flat on his face. I’m more interested in seeing who we can pick up in next year’s draft and then have a real QB competition in 2014. I get the feeling management was thinking along the same lines when Geno was drafted.

  • Al

    Doesn’t make any difference the jets are and have been a joke for 40 years. Yes I’m a very disgruntled jets fan. As long as Rex and Sanchez are on this team they go no where,

  • twoshady18

    Al — you’re on the wrong website. Here, let me help you:

  • Drew

    Great post.

    Anthony, the problem with Mark’s inconsistency throughout his career is that while the good is good; the bad is terrible. This team cannot recover a game that he has 3+ turnovers.

    If Mark, in year 5, is still having games where the wheels are coming off he needs to pass the torch.

    Hopefully with Marty it really comes together and his turnover number is low, because he can be a fine quarterback.

  • David

    Let me ask an honest question: Has it really been a QB competition? If it is a true competition, why haven’t Matt Simms and Greg McElroy been given more of a chance? What has Geno Smith shown in the preseason so far? He had one quarter that he was 6-7 for 48 yards. Well guess what, Matt Simms was 5-5 for 73 yards; and McElroy has at least thrown a TD and led a scoring a drive before getting killed as a result of the 2nd string offensive line.

    I could argue real easy that so far, Geno Smith should be battling McElroy or Simms for the #3 QB position on the Jets. He better show a TON Saturday night.

  • Harold

    Your article is good overall, The premise that Sanchez should start or that Geno needs to be lights out to unseat Sanchez is just not grounded in fact. If he needed to be lights out to unseat Mark we likely wold have ended this battle in training camp as neither player as been lights out and Geno until yesterday had his worst ten day stretch of training camp.

    So why wasn’t the competition called? Because Geno doesn’t need to be better than a 5 year vet at the very beginning but if they are close and you see the rookie not making the same mistakes over and over again. And you feel he can lead your team. Than you go with the rookie because you know what you have in Sanchez and the rookie by improving and getting better shows you the upside you cannot get with Sanchez.

    Additionally, we are painting Sanchez as the champ. When you are the champ logic says the challenger needs to knock out the champ. Newsflash Sanchez is not the champ he is the simply an incumbent who if not owed 8.75 million (including workout bonus) would have been cut. This last statement is not in dispute and shows why Geno doesn’t need to be great just show he can manage the offense and he will start game one.

    Lastly, go look at Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco and many rookies who start they don’t set the world on fire at first but as they get settled they get better and better. Geno has a good chance to do the same. Stop with this he was a second round pick for a reason. Many good players go in the second round. We have three young signal callers just in the last two years in Kap, Dalton, and Wilson who were drafted in the second or third round and are looked at as the QB’s of the future for their teams.

    The Jets seem to want to follow this trend and who can blame them.

  • I’ll take this article a step further and say Geno doesn’t deserve to start the Giants game. I agree with the post from David in that Geno hasn’t shown anything to be listed ahead of Greg Mac or Simms on the depth chart. The Jets current core of pro-bowlers who are in their NFL prime of Mangold, DBrick, Cromartie have gone deep in the playoffs with Sanchez and don’t want to give away this season at the start with a rookie at the helm. The Jets now have more talent on offense than they’re given credit for and an OC with a legit game plan and shouldn’t hand the keys to an unproven, 2nd rd pick rookie just because his name isn’t Sanchez.

  • Harold, I’d like to knock a few holes in your argument. The reason(s) this QB competition hasn’t been called is #1. The organization loves the publicity it’s generating and #2. They’re trying to appease a disgruntled fan base whose mistakenly blamed the entire failures of the past two seasons on the QB. The 5th year QB has played under a defensive-minded head coach who’s idea of offensive football is “ground&pound” in the era of throwing the football. His first OC was a rookie himself, his second OC was Sparano, ’nuff said there. The first supposedly No.1 caliber receiver ever drafted for him was last season, his 4th in league! I think the Jets organization can take a little credit for the stunting of his development. So this notion of ‘you know what you’re getting with Mark’ is bs because you’ve rarely seen him with weapons and NEVER seen him in an aggressive QB friendly offense. If Geno was lighting the world on fire, that would be one thing but he isn’t so groom him correctly for the future and go with experience at the present.

  • Harold

    Harris :

    I am not sure what holes you poked in my statements.
    1)The organization loves the publicity? You have zero evidence to support that statement.

    2) Two they are trying to appease a disgruntled fanbase that blames the QB?
    Sanchez is the lowest rated passer over the last 4 years. He has the most Turnovers over the last 2 yers in the league. We can blame others but Sanchez has revealed who he is. Remember “Tough times don’t build character they reveal it”. Sanchez’s football character and ability has been revealed.

  • joeydefiant

    How is the team a joke? 4 postseason wins in the last 4 years is more than about 28 other teams. A lot of teams havent even made the postseason in the last 10 years nevermind the last 4. THE WHOLE JETS ARE A JOKE THING IS STUPID AND NOT BASED IN FACT OR RESULTS.

  • joeydefiant

    I will take the 50 percent chance Sanchez has given us to make the postseason based on his career results. One stupid turnover a game is about average in the NFL actually. The problem is that Sanchez is a gunslinger type QB who makes up for the turnovers with big plays. But the last two years the offense hasnt had the talent around him to make the big play. In the first two years with WRs and RBs Sanchez was leading 4th qtr comebacks and game winning drives all the time. Not to mention being in the top 5 in red zone performance at least one of the years and a top 10 another year.