No Huddle – New York Jets Twilight Zone Edition

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the New York Jets entering the Twilight Zone as the head into their final pre-season game

TJ Rosenthal kicks off another week of New York Jets coverage at Turn On The Jets with his weekly No Huddle – Make sure to give TJ a follow on Twitter on Turn On The Jets a follow on Facebook

We Have Entered The Green And White Zone

Forget the Twilight Zone. The Jets flew into a whole new air space of bizarre against the Giants. To a place that even the longest standing Polo Grounds or Shea Stadium loyalist had ever traveled through.

Saturday night we witnessed Geno Smith the rookie hopeful start off hot behind center. Only to lose a shot at the starting gig with three picks and a safety in the blink of an eye shortly thereafter. Caving in to a guy the fan base doesn’t believe in. An inconsistent four year starter who was poised to win his job back by default. This before being thrown to the third string wolves, where of course he got injured. A preventable gaffe by the Jets coaching staff that soon led oddly enough, to the 4th string quarterback’s entrance and eventual stealing of the show. Seriously? As preposterous as it all sounds, yes.

Many of us caught some Sunday morning opinions from analysts, experts and fans about how Rex was right to put in Sanchez. That all players have to be ready at all times and all that other “everyone is equal” communal nonsense. C’mon, please.

Your starting QB (and yes after the first three quarters it was clear that Mark Sanchez was the lesser of two evils at least for week one) most valuable piece on the chess board, gets first rate protection at all times. Period. Even if he is in just to work on his handoff technique.

So now what? Sanchez is listed as day to day with a right shoulder issue (whatever that means or whatever the Jets are hiding about the real severity of the situation) and Geno, who too often  looked like an overmatched rookie, needs work.

Smith has to get a few reps in a meaningless August game number four to get some experience and rhythm, right? In the event that he is the week 1 guy assuming that #6 can’t go, the guy can’t roll in to September off that performance.

Let’s keep in mind that if Smith does play in the final tune up on Thursday, the entire first team offense now has be there with him. Foregoing the traditional late August game night off to risk themselves physically now too. Otherwise the Jets risk a repeat of the Sanchez scenario.

Maybe the Jets will now open the competition to Matt Simms and Greg McElroy too. Certain diehards would love to see that.

It was an unnecessary move to insert Sanchez late Saturday by Rex. Winning the Snoopy Bowl or doing so to get the hot and cold Sanchez some extra work wasn’t worth whatever the reward seemed to be. Hopefully it won’t affect any decision about who starts, or lead to any other key pieces getting hurt against the Eagles in the process.

This D Line Will Be Damn Good

Forget the long David Wilson TD on the Giants first play. Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison were forces as the game wore on. Add Mo Wilkerson  Quinton Coples, Kenrick Ellis to the rotation and by mid October this group is going to be a known commodity around the league.

We love what we saw out of first rounder Richardson. A powerful burst matched with an inside quickness. The defense has gone from one foundation on a great corner pairing to the boys up front. A switch that should cause more turnovers and negative plays for the opposing offense as time goes on.

Hurry Up Tone

Santonio Holmes is off the PUP list as of last week. We pray this means that Tone is on his way back. We can’t watch Stephen Hill fumble ten yard receptions and start bar fights after whistles all year. We need a vet who can do it downfield and has done it before. We miss his “first down” pose too.

Quick Kick

Nick Folk and Billy Cundiff missed three game winners inside of 40 in OT. Two were nullified by Tom Coughlin’s time out freezes but my goodness, was it hard to watch.

Folk was solid in 2012 and we trust him going forward, but make no mistake. This is no time for kicker problems. The 2013 Jets team needs makable FG attempts to be the last thing on a Jet fans mind offensively. We have enough areas of concern on that side of the ball already.

Jets Who Balled Out

Winslow, Spadola, Harrison,  Richardson, Walls

Jets Who Need To Step It Up

Stephen Hill, Kyle Wilson 

Jets Who Can’t be Located by GPS or the NSA

Mike Goodson (Braylon Edwards honorable mention)


Jets QBs have done their fair share of throwing behind receivers a bunch this summer. Still, can’t a Jet receiver reach back and catch an off target ball once in a while? Apparently not. Help your quarterbacks out guys. Being athletic means more than one’s time on a practice field doing a 40 yard dash.

  • Dima

    Thanks Stephen A.

    You’re right. No starting offensive line ever gives up pressure. Ever. Stupid Jets coaches for allowing for that possibility. I suppose if he choked on a hot dog while on the sideline it would have been Rex’s fault for keeping him idle.

    Injuries happen. If Sanchez were good enough on his own to hold off a rookie prospect who plummeted in the draft, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  • BubbaGump

    All those who say “injuries happen” still can’t point to one example of a quarterback who was clearly going to be the season starter playing in the fourth quarter of a preseason game.

    Whether playing with backups or not, at that point in the game there was no reason to have Sanchez on the field; the competition was over after Geno’s 3 INTs and Safety.

    I can’t believe I’m about to do this, but check out what Tom Brady said this morning:

    “I was lucky to really have a chance that whole first year to be in a situation where I wasn’t forced to play and lose a bunch of confidence. . . I was able to sit there, watch, learn, grow, grow into my body a little bit, improve my throwing mechanics.”

    Take note, that’s exactly what Geno should be doing this year, sitting, watching, learning, picking Marty-ball’s brain, working on his 3 and 5 step drops, etc.

    Take the time, perfect the skills that he just started developing this summer, learn NFL defenses, and then next year he’ll be a much better option.

  • John

    The thing is, QB’s are more developed and NFL-ready today running the pro-set offenses in college. Don’t get me wrong, I would be just fine with Geno sitting this year out and preparing to be the future QB for the Jets. I wouldn’t want to screw that up. But I think this is old school thinking and isn’t as applicable to today’s game.
    Idzik saw the results of pushing the rookie into action in Seattle as it payed off nicely. Luck, Griffin, Tannehill and Wilson all got great work in last year as rookies.

  • KAsh

    But Geno never worked in a pro offense in college. And the book is still out on Wilson, Luck, and RG3. Kaepernick sat a year and a half, and he was bad in the preseason games he played in eight games before he was forced to start because of Alex Smith’s concussion.

    I do not care if it is old or new thinking, but if you see a guy that is not ready, you sit him. (As an aside, with the speed that this thinking has changed, I think it is a fad based on the last two drafts and not an actual change.)

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    John, the thing is, Geno DID NOT run a pro-style offense in college, so BubbaGump’s quoting of Tom Brady is VERY applicable to this situation.

  • BubbaGump

    John, you kind of proved my point.

    Wilson, Tannehill, and Luck all had significant time in a pro-style offense in college, unlike Geno.

    The only example of a QB running a spread offense in college then succeeding as a rookie in the NFL is RG3.

    As of right now, Geno is 22-37, 246 yds, 1 TD, 1 sack, 3 INT, 54.6 rating.

    RG3 in his first preseason was 20-30, 193 yards, 2 TDs, 3 sacks, 0 INT, 103.3 rating.

    That’s a world of difference and a further illustration that Geno just isn’t ready.

  • Dima

    Bubba, you’re saying that Geno’s performance was worse than what we’ve seen from Sanchez? Such as, let’s say, 2012 Week 4, or 2012 Week 5, or Week 8, Week 10, or how about Week 13?

    There is no “[clear starter]” on the Jets. Geno needs snaps (because I don’t know how you perfect anything while holding a clipboard – football is the only sport where people still think you can get better by sitting) and Sanchez now needs rest. I think the competition sorted itself out.

  • BubbaGump

    Geno’s preseason and Mark’s 2012 cannot be honestly compared. There are different players and a completely different offensive scheme.

    Mark was throwing to Kerley and a bunch of scrubs picked up off the street based on plays called by the worst OC in the NFL (at least that year, maybe in a decade).

    This year the receivers have more experience and a little more support from veterans (Obomanu and Edwards) as well as a new OC that’s actually been successful in his profession in the past.

    As of right now, with the same tools and the same system, Mark is the better quarterback. That doesn’t mean Geno won’t be the better option come week 4, 8, 12, or next season. But right now, Mark’s better.

  • Frank Antonelli

    I thought you were different than the Cimini and Manish crowd???? The fact of the matter is that Geno got hit more often and harder than Mark did. This was an unfortunate occurrence that could have easily happened with Mark starting the game. His shoulder could just simply have been one hit away from getting injured. That’s why some players get injured on plays that seem innocuous enough while others don’t get
    injured on seemingly very dangerous plays. The accumulated damage to an area sometimes takes time to reveal itself.

  • Dima

    Mark being slightly better (it’s not like 8.2 YPA over the first two preseason games is world-beater numbers), but he is not so far ahead that we need to protect his Danny Trejo mustache at all costs. Dude is mediocre and needs to compete. At the very least, he shouldn’t be coddled into complacency like he has been the last four years.

    I think Sanchez should be the Week 1 starter if he’s healthy, but am I mad at Rex for letting him get lit up by the Giants’ roster bubblers? Nah. Dude needs to know his ass is on the line.

    Or do you think we’re one butt-fumble away from a deep playoff push?

  • David

    A couple of comments about the comments:

    1) You can’t compare Tom Brady to Geno Smith, based on draft position. Brady was a 6th round pick, #193 I believe. There were no guarantees that he was even going to make New England’s roster that season. I remember watching “Brady’s Six” and Belicheck making the comment that with 3 QB’s already on the roster, normal logic dictated that the Pats release Brady because he was the #4 QB at the time, but there was just something about him that made you say, “We can’t get rid of him” even though they knew he would likely never play a down for them that season. With a 6th round pick, all you are hoping to do is catch “lightning in a bottle,” which is what New England did and raised Belicheck’s stock.

    2) If you haven’t named a starting QB by the end of the 3rd preseason game– heck, even the 2nd one for that matter– then you don’t have a starting QB on the roster. Outside of maybe Buffalo, and I think that has more to do with Manuel being hurt and out than anything, the NY Jets are the only team you can honestly say in the NFL hasn’t named a starter.

    3) I read people saying, “Oh Geno should sit and learn.” I know I can only speak for myself, but I’m getting tired of having to wait multiple years for these 2nd rounders to “get it right.” It seems like the rest of the NFL is getting it right, from the get-go, with a lot of their 2nd rounders. So why can’t the NY Jets? Bottom line, if you are drafting someone as a “project” in round 2 that you need to wait 2+ years on, then guess what– YOU DON’T NEED TO BE DRAFTING THEM IN ROUND 2! A second rounder is someone who should be coming in from day one and either playing significantly from the get-go, or even starting from day one at a certain position.

  • Frank Antonelli

    You forgot the terrible, namely, the clown reporter Manish. Nice to see someone taking him to task. Governor Christie of New Jersey is not happy with the way Mehta conducted himself in the Ryan press conference and
    he let that be known while on WFAN’s Boommer and Carton show Monday. He said:

    “Idiot. The guy’s a complete idiot. Self-consumed, underpaid, reporter. The
    only reason he’s empowered is we’re spending all this time this morning talking about Manish Mehta who, by the way, I couldn’t pick out of a lineup,” Christie said. “And no Jet fan really gives a damn about Manish

    “That’s my point. It shouldn’t be about that. It should be about the Sanchez decision,” Christie said. “We shouldn’t be giving this DOPE the amount of airtime we’ve given him already.”

    “As somebody who stands in front of the press asking you questions, what’s
    he supposed to say at that point? He tried to defend the decision, and people keep yelling at him, so he had enough of the BS. He’s like, ‘Enough, I’ve given you my answer.’ There comes a point, Craig,
    sometimes, with you people in the media, where you just have to say, ‘Hey, that’s my answer. You think it’s stupid, you don’t like it, then say that. But leave me alone.’”

  • BubbaGump

    I just think it’s stupid to put your presumptive starting quarterback in a preseason game in the 4th quarter.

    Would I think different had he not gotten injured? Absolutely, that’s why hindsight is 20/20.

    Fact of the matter is I can’t think of a single other coach that would have made that decision because it creates added risk with virtually no benefit.

    If Mark had gotten hurt in the 3rd quarter against the Giants scrubs, I’d shrug my shoulders and say “well crap, that happened, I hope he’s ok because Geno isn’t ready.”

    But he didn’t, he got injured after being placed in a position by his coach that no other starting QB in the NFL is placed. That makes it a stupid decision right there.

    Add in the fact that Rex said he had him in to “compete” and to “win” and Ryan looks like a complete moron. If he merely said “he needed more reps to get ready for the season, players can get injured on any given play, it’s just a shame it happened then” then this controversy would be defused. Some would still question the wisdom of having your starting QB in the fourth quarter of a presason game (myself included), but at least Ryan wouldn’t look like an idiot that should be demoted to DC almost immediately.

  • KAsh

    @Dima – if you ever played any sport, you should know that technique cannot be worked on live. Sports that are based mostly on technique have top end players routinely leave for a year or two to change how they play. Technique is worked on in the gym, with your trainer repeatedly having you do what cannot be done in an actual game. Brady’s quote is actually pertinent because, I believe, he played in a pro offense in college. During game time, a player must revert to old habits, as they are what has allowed him to play the game at a high level. A player cannot learn anything new in game, cannot work on any flaw, or grasp a concept he has not gotten in the practice room. That is why rookies in all sports (except the most athletic-based ones) sit.

  • matr dontelli iii

    ok who’s more imporant, mangold or sanchez? is the dropoff greater between sanchez and geno or between mangold and the number two center? might wanna consider brick in that equation as well. should the starting front line have been out there or should sanchez have not played two weeks in a row going into the season or should geno have gotten fewer reps, like he doesn’t need as many as he can get. nothing like second guessers. have another drink and hate on jet fans and when you’re done hating cheer for the injured quarterback. yup and keep listening to espn.

  • Dima

    He was only the “presumptive” starting quarterback because everyone seems to have the attention span of a goldfish. Sanchez might have been better by default, but he still had some earning to do, since up until now we’ve only seen a few flashes of above replacement during his tenure as a pro. If Rex did this three years ago when people still considered Sanchez the face of the franchise, I’d be just as pissed as you are, but if I were making the decision he had to make on Saturday, I make the same call every single time.

    @KAsh – Which sports are you talking about? Because baseball, basketball, and hockey all have subordinate leagues where players learn by playing. Certainly you work on technique one on one with the coaches, but it’s not like Geno is tossing balls at tires during the game. Is there some key clipboard-holding technique he still needs to get down? Because if not, maybe he could learn how to do a thing by, you know, doing it.

  • BubbaGump

    A list of current quarterbacks that sat on the bench during at least part of their first season and their draft position for Dima:

    Tom Brady (6th round)
    Ben Roethlisberger (11th overall)
    Matt Schaub (3rd round)
    Philip Rivers (4th overall)
    Tony Romo (undrafted)
    Eli Manning (1st overall)
    Michael Vick (1st overall)
    Jay Cutler (11th overall)
    Aaron Rodgers (24th overall)
    Drew Brees (2nd round)
    Colin Kaepernick (2nd round)

    All these quarterbacks sat and learned and have all been successful to one degree or another.

    Maybe there is something to learning the NFL game while holding a clipboard.

    There are only a handful of quarterbacks that have had successful careers after being given the starting job at the outset of their rookie seasons.

    Ironically, Sanchez is probably one of the better ones based on his first two years alone.

  • Dima

    I’m not even going to get into this right now, Bubba, because it’s completely non-falsifiable. For every example showing one thing there is an example showing its opposite (Manning, Marino, Tarkenton, Unitas, the four rookie QBs last year who played better than Sanchez, etc.), and there is no way to eliminate the variables.

    Just rattling off some names without even trying to explain the cause of the phenomenon is just confirmation bias. I, on the other hand, subscribe to the theory that doing something is better for learning it than doing absolutely nothing.

  • BubbaGump

    FYI, Unitas was cut the year he was drafted and Marino started his career on the bench.

  • Dima

    Ok, so how about we just have Geno sit out the first play against the Bucs? That will meet your standard of “[starting their career on the bench.]”

    Or do they need to sit out five games like Marino? Or one game like Big Ben? Or do you have some other pointlessly-arbitrary criterion?

  • BubbaGump

    How about he sits until he give the Jets the best chance to win? Not a tough standard to meet.

    Sanchez is the better NFL QB right now, give him a chance to succeed. If he fails or gets injured, then go to Geno.

    Aside from last years “fad”, to quote KAsh, this is how almost every team has operated almost every year.

  • David

    I think you need to get Geno in there at some point because you need to find out in some fashion whether Geno Smith can play in the NFL or if you need to go out and draft a QB in round 1 next year.

    Another dilemma facing Geno Smith is the whole Rex Ryan situation. Let’s say Idzik fires him after the season and brings in his own head coach. More than likely, Marty Mohrninweg will be gone as well because the new head coach would want his own OC. What if Geno Smith doesn’t fit the particular system they want to run? Then what?

  • Sean

    Also, Manning was 3-13 in his rookie year, and Kaepernick wasn’t a rookie.

  • Sean

    Whoops, ignore the Kaep comment, I miscounted.

  • Dima

    Bubba, we’re having a different discussion now. I already conceded that if the two were both healthy, Sanchez should start. But they’re not, because Sanchez has been god-awful for years, and he couldn’t secure the competition by week 3, leaving Rex with the belief that he needed to be in Saturday’s game in the fourth quarter.

    But if Geno starts week 1, I’m saying it won’t make him worse off (as a future cog in the Jets’ football machine) than if he is forced to sit the first two weeks.

  • Dima

    Sean, you think the difference between Sanchez and Geno is the difference between a Superbowl run and a bust season? Because if not, you have to take the 3-13 for a decade of P Manning every time. I’m not saying that’s what Geno will be, just that it’s become clear that Sanchez won’t even brush Chad Pennington.

  • KAsh

    Dima – First, Rex puy Sanchez in because he did not want him to be cold three weeks removed from game action for TB. He did not do it to see something else from Sanchez. He could have done that in the fourth game, if it were necessary. But he wanted him prepared and rested.

    Next, I am talking about any mental sport. My prime example is men’s tennis, where all the top seeds have left the game at one point or another for years to refine technique. But any mental sport will do.

    Take boxing. Boxers do not get better in a bout. If you go in having a nervous tick where you drop your fists before throwing a right cross (common problem due to the lower fist position feeling like it generates more power) this will not magically go away and yout opponent will likely plant a left hook in your face (the last thing you will remember). People do not make mistakes consciously. A QB stares down his receivers because he needs to throw an oblong ball at a very fast-moving target at a very high speed in a very small window with very high accuracy. Just telling him not to stare at his receivers does not solve the underlying issues. He needs months of training of where to keep his eyes and to trust that his receiver will be at the right spot when he does look. Months of discussions with his receivers to understand how they think and to impart what he wants them to do (based on his own proper understanding of what they can do). He needs to see how others do it. He needs months and months of repeating the same play so that his motions are ingrained. Most importantly, he needs tonot be stressed because his old instincts are wrong and must be broken (which weakens him) before his new instincts can be installed.

    Clipboard duty will help him understand defensive formations. The other stuff he needs practice away from the lights to correct. But several of those interceptions were because he did not recognize the scheme in time.

  • BubbaGump

    It would have made more sense to have the entire first unit play 1 quarter in Philly instead of having just Sanchez out there in the 4th quarter.

    Having Sanchez on the field with backups doesn’t help in preparing him for week 1.

  • John C

    If playing QB, with second and third stringers, against second and third stringers, is so dangerous, than the NFL will face a lawsuit from all QBS (regardless of where they are on the depth chart), for putting their life and career on the line. Geno hurt his ankle doing the same – where was the concern when Geno got hurt?

    Edwards is the only Jet that has shown an ability to catch bad balls, but he’s gone now. If Stephen Hill doesn’t make an impact soon, he will lose reps to Spadola. His penalty was ridiculous (on his part). Matt Simms reminds me of Matt Robinson (yes I’m old, and even older than that) – an unheralded gunslinger, not necessarily known for accuracy, but somehow, people seem to play a half-step faster with him in the game.

    Ramblings: Walls and Truffant both defend better than Wilson. Goodbye Joe McKnight – with him gone and Goodson MIA, we have no real home run threat at RB in the screen game – too bad. Harris and Pace are still slow.

  • Dima

    Ok, so how will playing make him worse? Everything you said is a great response to someone saying Geno’s ready, but since absolutely nothing you mentioned is mutually exclusive with him getting real-time experience, I’m not sure how it applies to my argument that he should get more reps. Clipboard duty will help him understand defensive formations better than playing? So much so that the difference can’t be solved by film study? C’mon.

    (I’m also kind of baffled by your suggestion that football is more like boxing than baseball, hockey, or basketball, but I don’t really want to get into it because it doesn’t inform our discussion.)

  • John C

    Because everyone always likes the backup better – I’m trying to start a groundswell of support for Matt Simms! Help out TOJ fans – this from the NY Post (hopefully it’s not against the rules to copy this here}

    “He completed 6-of-10 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown in the Jets’ 24-21 preseason victory over the Giants. Simms is 11-for-15 for 193 yards and the touchdown in the preseason for a quarterback rating of 137.5.

    “I thought he played well,” coach Rex Ryan said Saturday. “He was up and down, but he had 6-of-10 [passing and] a 135.0 quarterback rating, so he did some good things. ”

    I’ll say this – If this were truly an open competition (not just between two people), and if all the Jets QBs wore no numbers, and had no names on their Jerseys this preseason, Simms would be the starter! And he did all of his playing with and against those deadly “third stringers”.

    Note: If Simms was up and down, what were Smith and Sanchez?

  • KAsh

    A player cannot get better by simply playing and repeating the same mistakes over and over again. They are not mistakes to him in the moment: they are survival skills. This is not baseball, where everyone needs to have a fairly similar skill set, except the pitcher who locks away throws that he has not perfected in practice. A QB is a very different animal from say a RB. The job of a RB is simpler in some sense – get the handoff, see the hole, pick his path, and get down the field. It requires intelligence, but primarily needs athletic ability. But a RB that does not recognize the holes or does not wait for them to develop does not suddenly acquire the skill to do so while playing games during the season. The same with a QB.

    Now, as for the dangers of not addressing those mistakes: 1) it kills his confidence. This is something he himself recognizes afterwards and he starts questioning himself (and his future decisions) even if he is not chewed out for them each time. The doubt leads to delay, which leads to more mistakes and more doubt. 2) It becomes easier to game plan for him. If he throws off his back foot, the defense just needs to get some pressure in his face. If he stares down his receivers, the secondary needs to focus on who he is looking at. If he cannot read coverages, mix them up. Once something has worked, other teams will try more of the same, until you play worse and worse. 3) If you have a good OC, you doom him by not being able to execute more and more of his playbook. Your offense becomes more and more predictable. People no longer wonder about what you are going to do, which makes defending against you extremely easy.

    Most of the QB busts in the league were players that got forced into action too early. They dominated during college and high school, but could not adjust to the increasing complexity of the pros. Many of them either did not have help or had bad coaching. Geno currently has good coaching, why not give him the time he needs?

  • Nikolas

    Sanchez is not an NFL starting QB.
    If not for his $7.5 million contract, he would have been released and unemployed.
    You all know that!

    So what is the point of starting him now?

    “Better chance to win”?

    Win what? This team has won in the past despite of Sanchez.

  • KAsh

    I personally hate this argument “he would have been cut if not for his contract.” It assumes something that never happened. Furthermore, it assumes that teams operate on a “clean slate” mentality, and use cuts to purge themselves of players.

    First, cuts are used to get teams under the salary cap with as little damage as possible. Second, you never cut somebody without having a replacement on the roster. A QB would have had to come here and beat out Sanchez before Sanchez would ever get cut. Now, we can get into the discussion of who could have been brought in and how they would have played. But your original argument is dead in the water: Sanchez would have been part of this team at this time of the year in almost any scenario bar a trade (you can also discuss which backup is better than Sanchez). The one player – Matt Moore – that might have been an improvement chose the money and the security of being backup to Tannehill over trying to get his own shot at starting. I was disappointed in him, but he must have seen his future as better in Miami. Sanchez is still here not because of a contract, but because of a lack of better alternatives. Fans may hate him, but that is how it stands.

  • Nikolas


    You cannot reject my argument by saying that I make assumptions and then turn around and argue solely on assumptions!!!
    Common man!?

  • KAsh

    What assumptions? Please point them out before you dismiss a dissection of your own erroneous thinking. The only thing I can think of as a slight assumption is that Moore doubted that he could best Sanchez. But that stands on its own merits: he could have signed a one-year contract at the beginning of FA, which would give him first dibs at the massive salary cap next year if he won the competition and showed.that he could cut it as a starter. He turned down both the future fortune and the fame for an extra two million this year.

    Common man, indeed.