Dark Clouds on the Final Day in Cortland

Cortland, NY – Dark skies overcast SUNY Cortland this morning as the Jets took the field. Reminiscent of a morning in October, a chill swept through the facility and rain shortly followed. Unprepared for such temperature in the middle of August, Rex sent for more appropriate attire. Yes, practice started with an ominous tone.

The rain clouds must’ve been following rookie quarterback Geno Smith, or that’s at least how it seemed.

“This was a really bad day for Geno,” said Rex Ryan. “Today was a bad day today. There is no other way to put it. “

“You’re not going to have the best days every single time,” said Smith. “That’s what practice is for. We want to get every single look, every single scenario, and we want to continue to just work hard and progressively get better as an offense.”

Geno Smith had arguably his worst day at camp today.

Smith threw several interceptions, and had the look of a rookie in over his head. To his credit he is playing on an injured ankle that has him far from 100%.

“You can see it out there,” said Ryan. “He is not able to move like he normally does, he is not able to drive the ball like he normally does.”

Since the first week, Mark Sanchez has slowly taken the lead in the competition. Maybe not enough to be named the week one starter, maybe not even enough to start Saturday against the Jaguars (with it being an open competition and all). But it’s been apparent to those following the team, whether the coaches want to admit it or not.

Smith is facing an uphill battle and he’s doing it on a bum ankle. Don’t be surprised if Smith and that ankle are firmly planted on the bench when the Bucs come to town.

This does not mean Smith won’t turn into a franchise quarterback for the Jets, or that he won’t make an appearance under center during the season. In fact, while his performance has been far from perfect, he has managed to impress his coaches this week.

“He is not using [the injury] as an excuse,” said Ryan. “To me that’s a good thing. That’s a positive thing.”

“I can’t make any excuses. I won’t make any, and if I’m out there Saturday, I’m giving my all,” added Smith.

But simply put, more than ever, it seems like Sanchez is a lock to start week one.

The competition will continue and the coaches will continue to evaluate for as long as they can. But if I were a betting man, I would not take those odds.

*****

Clyde Gates returned to practice and was wearing a non-contact jersey. He showed no ill effects from the head injury that kept him out the last two days, and made some nice catches.

Stephen Hill had a couple more highlight-reel catches, but once again dropped a pass in the end zone. The ball literally banged off his hands, an unacceptable play for a player trying to put the drops behind him.

*****

The team released their depth chart today. Both rookie first-round picks, Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson, were listed with the first team. Bilal Powell was listed as the first-team running back, with Chris Ivory backing him up. But for those of you hoping to get some insight into the quarterback competition, the Jets were one step ahead: Geno and Mark were both listed on the first-team.

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