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Sanchez, not Geno, should begin season as Jets' starting QB
- By GEORGE WILLIS
- Last Updated: 11:30 AM, May 26, 2013
- Posted: 12:06 AM, May 26, 2013
- Jets Blog
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Mark Sanchez throws three interceptions during an offseason training activity, and some already have given up hope he can be a useful starting quarterback again. Such is the chatter on sport talk radio, Twitter, and among those who hide behind unnamed sources.
Geno Smith, the 39th pick, is being treated like he was taken No. 1 and is here to save a franchise in free fall. Already, there are those who are convinced the second-round draft choice from West Virginia should be the Week 1 starter though he hasn’t taken a snap wearing anything other than shorts, T-shirts and helmets.
Mark Sanchez (6) and Geno Smith (7)
The view here is the best thing that could happen to Smith and the Jets is for Sanchez to regain the confidence he once had and become an efficient enough quarterback to lead the Jets through the 2013 regular season.
No one remembers how many interceptions former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw in mini-camps or OTAs before the light bulb went on and he became a quarterback that led the 49ers to their resurgence, before losing his job to Colin Kaepernick. And the Jets don’t need Sanchez to be as good as Smith became before being injured last season.
If Sanchez can minimize his turnovers and manage the offense the way he did in leading the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010, and not be the liability he was in 2012, then Smith can watch and learn and not have the pressure of leading a rebuilding franchise.
That might be asking a lot of Sanchez. His three interceptions during an OTA on Wednesday came in front a large media gathering and invited
VIPs. One interception wasn’t his fault. A receiver ran the wrong pattern and wound up too close to another receiver, prompting three defensive backs to converge on the ball. The other two INTS were head-scratchers that left on-lookers wondering, “What was he thinking?”
Otherwise, Sanchez looked the part of the starter. He worked with the first team, advised young players, and had an authoritative bounce to his step. Then he threw the interceptions, including one to a defensive lineman, prompting flashbacks of the Buttfumble.
The Jets’ quarterback candidates — Sanchez, Smith and Greg McElroy — have been led to believe there will be an open competition for the job of starting quarterback. Matt Simms is also in camp. But the reality is, this is Sanchez’s job to lose. In fact, Sanchez doesn’t view it as a competition.
“I’ve played long enough now I don’t worry about the quarterback on the other side of the field or the quarterback that’s in competition with you,” he said. “It doesn’t really bother me.”
All signs point to this being a sacrificial season. Head coach Rex Ryan is in the last year of his contract and focusing more on restocking a defense that lost veterans like Bart Scott, Mike Devito, Darrelle Revis, Eric Smith, Bryan Thomas, Sione Pouha and LeRon Landry.
Skill positions lack proven talent. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot) still was limping as of this week. Second-year receiver Stephen Hill (hamstring) also is hobbling. Only along the offensive line where D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, and Austin Howard return is there proven talent.
The best thing for Smith is not to be thrown into the fire the first week of his professional career, or the first month, or first half of the season. If it becomes a total disaster, then McElroy can take over.
The Jets need to be smart and think long-term with Smith. Rookie seasons like those enjoyed by Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson should be viewed as the exception and not the norm.
It would be better for Smith to watch from the sideline while learning the West Coast offense Marty Mornhinweg is implementing.
But that will be up to Sanchez.