The fans have been calling for it for years, growing louder and louder in their efforts to be heard. It appears the New York Jets have finally answered, benching embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez in favor of starting Geno Smith. This may be only a preseason game, however it certainly is the biggest opportunity for the rookie out of West Virginia so far in his young career.
Many expected Smith to easily oust Sanchez from his spot under center, however to this point the veteran has been feisty in defending his job. He has looked to be the more consistent option of the two throughout training camp, pretty hard to believe anyone is calling the Butt Fumbler consistent but it is the truth.
Geno Smith has struggled in practice, and has seen injuries limit his game appearances. That is not what New York management hoped for when they spent a second round draft pick to acquire his services. In his first preseason game he sprained his ankle, an injury that would keep him out of week two of the preseason as well.
Going through practice between the first and second week of the preseason, Smith attempted to play through his injury. It did not go as well as he had hoped. Coach Rex Ryan described it as his worst week of practice. After a particularly bad day at the office, he explained Smith’s performance:
“It was brutal. That was Geno’s worst day. Obviously, the ankle is part of it, but way too many picks. Did not look comfortable today. Obviously, he has to come back from it. He will come back from it. But it was a bad day. Guys have bad days, but this was a really bad day for Geno. It was a bad day today. There’s no other way to put it. It was a bad day. Was I disappointed he had the day like he did today? Absolutely. These days happen, but you don’t expect them to happen.
Mark Sanchez did little to secure the job in an up and down week two preseason game. Beginning the game on fire, Sanchez would throw an interception and botch a time management situation, resulting in his getting booed off the field by Jets fans. His performance was not bad by any means, it just wasn’t good enough to officially see him named the starter.
Although it appears that Sanchez has the lead right now, that probably was not the outcome Jets management was hoping for. Given that the team struggled to an 8-8 record in 2011, and fell further down the ladder to 6-10 in 2012, many jobs are riding on the success of this year’s team.
At 26 years old, many experts believe that Mark Sanchez has finished developing, and is going to be the quarterback we have seen the past two seasons throughout his career. That makes the rookie Geno Smith have significantly higher upside in their minds, which would make him more alluring.
However Smith has not yet got it done on the field. Perhaps that is why he is suddenly starting in week 3 of the preseason. This is the week that the starters see the most playing time, at least a half and often through the third quarter. This is done as a final gear up for the regular season, and enables them to rest almost all of the week 4 match up.
If Geno can seize the opportunity and execute a high level performance with the spotlight on him, he can easily leap frog Sanchez. Mark would have to be nearly perfect to counteract a sharp Smith. Geno was drafted to be the future, here is his opportunity to give the Jets a glimpse of where he can take this team.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express