The New York Jets opened up training camp earlier this week with a serious competition between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith for the starting quarterback job.
After leading the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in his first two seasons in the NFL, Mark Sanchez has been far from spectacular since then, and played absolutely atrocious last season. In 2012, Sanchez threw for 13 touchdowns and committed 26 total turnovers. Sanchez ended 2012 with a 66.9 QB rating, which ranked 31st in the league. Only Matt Cassel had a lower QB rating (66.7).
The Jets drafted Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, and many draft experts had Smith as their top rated QB. In a spread-system in college, Smith put up incredible numbers. In his final season at West Virginia, Smith threw for 42 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions and was in the Heisman race for the majority of the season. The offense Smith ran at WVU is by no means an NFL style offense. Smith’s chances of starting will be determined by how quickly he can pick up an NFL style offense.
Head coach Rex Ryan is on the hot seat this year. After two disappointing seasons, he cannot afford another losing year if he wants to keep his job. Rex could care less about what these two QBs have done in the past, and will probably make his decision based off which quarterback can run new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s offense better. Mornhinweg likes to run a “West Coast” style of offense, which is predicated on timing and precision.
Mark Sanchez wins the starting job because he is more ready to run a West Coast offense than Smith is at this early stage of his career. Rex Ryan knows he has to win now, and Sanchez gives him the best chance of winning. Sanchez played his best football in the 2009 and 2010 playoffs when he was playing smart, cautious football, and Mornhinweg’s new offense may be just what he needs to regain that form.
The second things start going wrong for Sanchez though, look for Geno Smith to become the starter very quickly. Sanchez will not have a very long leash before he gets yanked for poor play.