Jets coach Rex Ryan says he's excited to see Geno Smith play Saturday against the Giants. It will be the first start of the preseason for the rookie second-round pick, and if all goes according to plan Smith could win the job outright, officially ending the Mark Sanchez era in New York.
Earlier this week, New York Daily News' Manish Mehta called the Jets' quarterback competition "farcical," adding that while "general manager John Idzik won't be handing out Smith jerseys in the MetLife Stadium parking lot … he'll have a clear rooting interest. Idzik's desire for Smith to earn the starting job over incumbent Mark Sanchez, of course, makes perfect sense."
Sanchez is Ryan's guy. In Ryan's first year on the job, the Jets traded up in the first round to grab Sanchez, who had a solid start to his career, helping the team to back-to-back AFC Championship appearances. But in the two years since, the Jets are 8-8 and 6-10 and there's no reason to think things will magically improve with Sanchez under center this season.
Idzik was hired earlier this year and was responsible for drafting Smith. It's reasonable to expect that he'd like to begin the rebuilding process with his players, even if he's not allowed to fire Ryan until after the season.
Meanwhile, ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini wonders why the Jets are in such a hurry to give Smith the job.
"Rex Ryan and his offensive coaches say it wouldn't be a fair competition if they didn't give the kid a long look, but where is it written that all competitions have to be fair? Smith sprained an ankle and it cost him a game," Cimini wrote Friday. … "So now, instead of using the third game to build chemistry on offense and get comfortable with (new coordinator) Marty Mornhinweg's system, the Jets are trotting out a rookie who might or might not be a starting-caliber quarterback in the league. … If Smith flops and the job goes to Sanchez, the Jets will have wasted 30 or so prime reps against a first-team defense. And they can't make it up in the preseason finale, traditionally a Backup Bowl."
New offense or not, Sanchez is out of chances. He's not the long-term answer in New York. And he's probably not the short-term answer, either. The media's biggest issues seems to be that Ryan promised a quarterback competition, one that appears to be rigged in favor of Smith.
But this is the same outfit that a year ago thought Tim Tebow would push Sanchez to improve. Instead, Sanchez had his worst year as a pro, one that will be best remembered for two words: Butt fumble. For a guy who has had countless chances to prove he's a legit NFL quarterback, it's hard to argue Sanchez deserves one more.