Saturday night saw the annual New York Jets green and white scrimmage, and the quarterback battle stole the show. Geno Smith seems to be the consensus pick as the winner of the scrimmage, gaining ground in his attempts to oust incumbent Mark Sanchez from the starting role.
Geno Smith appears to have already had the upper hand in the quarterback battle, as he was the one that lead the first team offense for the majority of the series. Of the four offensive series that Smith was on the field for, three were with the first team offense. Overall he completed 9 of 16 passes for 77 yards. However he was unable to throw his first professional touchdown pass.
New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg appeared to like the flexibility that comes with Smith’s mobility. The added dimension of bootlegs and designed runs showcased itself during the scrimmage, and appears to be a major part of the argument to start the highly touted rookie. Head coach Rex Ryan has voiced his desire to add a passing threat to the team’s Wildcat formation this season, and Smith certainly looks like the front-runner to take that job.
Overlooked is the fact that unlike Geno Smith, veteran Mark Sanchez was able to complete a touchdown pass. Sure Sanchez displayed some of the inconsistencies that have made him so frustrating for Jets fans over the past several seasons, however he put points on the board. That can not be discounted. The Sanchize was not given as many opportunities as Smith, and finished 6 of 10 for 93 yards, with a touchdown and interception.
Sanchez also completed the best pass any of the Jets quarterbacks threw on the night. He completed a deep ball, something the Jets hope to utilize more this season, to Stephen Hill who did not have to break stride at all as he hauled in the pass. The 57 yard touchdown was the biggest play of the night by anyone in a white helmet.
”It was nice to close it that way and finish strong,” Sanchez said of his scoring strike to Stephen Hill. ”It’s really like a practice. I know it’s like a game atmosphere, but the way we’re set up where some drives are with the 1s and some are with the 2s, you’re just trying to get your feel and get into a little bit of a rhythm, which isn’t always easy.”
However despite the quality plays that Sanchez was able to string together during his touchdown drive, fans continue to voice their desire for Geno Smith to win the Jets quarterback battle. When Mark Sanchez took the field, the former first round selection was booed by fans.
The deep touchdown pass gave Sanchez the last laugh tonight. When you pair that with a previously stated desire within the locker room for the veteran to remain the starting quarterback, as well as Antonio Cromartie’s comments supporting the much maligned signal caller, the butt fumbler looks like the better choice to start in week one.
”I think that’s bull,” Cromartie, who intercepted Sanchez on Saturday, said following the scrimmage. ”My thing is, if you’re going to be a fan, be a fan. He’s our quarterback and Geno’s our quarterback, and they’re in a competition. You don’t come out here and boo anybody. We’re a family out here and we make sure we look out for each other.”
Yet New York Jets fans continue to call for a changing of the guard at football’s most important position. Fans have been adamant in their criticism of Sanchez on Twitter throughout the off-season, and did not at all change gears following the green and white scrimmage. Even the fictitious Happy Gilmore took to the social media platform to joke about the much maligned quarterback.
Mark Sanchez becomes first player ever to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list while he is 100% healthy.
— Happy Gilmore (@_Happy_Gilmore) July 30, 2013
I was a subpar high school qb at best and respect any player who has mastered the craft but even I look at Mark Sanchez like this guy sucks.
— Brennan Grant (@Brennan_B_Easy) August 1, 2013
Mark Sanchez sucks. All I got to say is “butt fumble.”
— Alammus Drenim (@fullanarchy) July 29, 2013
I was vacuuming my room and my vacuum died. I went to my desk, got a sharpie, and wrote “Mark Sanchez” on it. Needless to say it sucks again
— Pat Rowley (@RowleyPat) August 3, 2013
Although fans certainly do not set the depth chart for NFL franchises, Rex Ryan might be coaching for his job and as a result be listening to the input of his fan base in hopes of keeping his job. Changing the opinion of a frustrated fan base can not be done during training camp. However if Mark Sanchez can keep his job and avoid costly mistakes early, he could quickly win back the trust of Fireman Ed and the rest of the Jets faithful.
Geno Smith may be the future of the New York Jets, but Mark Sanchez is still a young enough player to compete for his job. The New York Jets may not have an elite quarterback on their roster, however their decision of who to start at the game’s most important position will drastically alter their season.
The New York Jets fans and players have given their two cents on the quarterback controversy, and have differed on their views. It is up to the play of Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez to determine who leads one of the league’s most proud franchises when week one starts in just a few weeks.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express