If you were wondering why Jets coach Rex Ryan would wait until the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game to send quarterback Mark Sanchez on the field, you're not alone. Pretty much everyone -- fans, media, Mark Sanchez -- was confused by the decision.
"Make no mistake: The controversy is only beginning," Cimini wrote early Sunday morning. "Judging by the way he reacted on the sideline, Sanchez seemed surprised to be getting the call. Ryan announced Thursday that he planned to play Sanchez after Smith, but maybe the plan changed. Sanchez didn't expect to play, according to a source.
"Another source said Sanchez didn't want to be put into a game with the backups," Cimini continued. "There was a strange sequence on the sideline before he went in. Third-stringer Matt Simms put on his helmet, chatted with (offensive coordinator Marty) Mornhinweg and seemed ready to go in. Sanchez was relaxing on the bench."
Relaxation turned to frustration after just two series, when Sanchez absorbed a big hit and injured his throwing shoulder. But Ryan, entering his fifth -- and possibly last -- year as the Jets coach, explained that it was all about competition.
"We're there to win," Ryan said during a press conference that was equal parts bizarre and testy. "We had our starting offense out there for three quarters -- we're trying to win the game, that's what we wanted to do. … We're trying to compete. Everybody's out there and injuries are part of the game. … We'll see the severity of Mark's injuries. Obviously it didn't work out the way we wanted it to, but we're here to compete."
Competing for what, remains a mystery.
It's still August and this team is already in shambles. The fact that the media is now backing Sanchez -- the man who brought us the "butt fumble" and was one of the league's worst quarterbacks a season ago -- tells you all you need to know about the 2013 New York Jets.
Upside: Smith, whose ragged debut included a touchdown, three interceptions and a "Wait, he just ran out of the back of the end zone?!" safety, sounded relatively upbeat after the game.
"I don't do grades, but overall I think this is just another learning experience for me," he said. "Lots of teaching tape. Felt good to be out there with my teammates, competing once again and it was a great job. It was a good team win."
So there's that.