The New York Jets announced today that Mark Sanchez will start at quarterback this Saturday when the team takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. The news comes on the heels of a rough week for Geno Smith, including multiple interceptions in practice yesterday. Smith is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered against the Detroit Lions in the first preseason game. The decision certainly doesn't bode well for Geno Smith in terms of winning the starting quarterback job.
Have the New York Jets settled on a starting quarterback by default? Mark Sanchez may have won the starting quarterback job in backdoor fashion once again. Geno Smith was injured against the Detroit Lions last week, but continued to practice this week and was expected to get a chance to start versus the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend. After what Rex Ryan called a brutal performance yesterday, the Jets announced today that Mark Sanchez will get his second start of the preseason this weekend.
It was assumed that Mark Sanchez would be given the first start against the Lions, with Geno Smith taking the second start versus the Jaguars. That would give each competitor one start heading into the pivotal third preseason game, when teams attempt to put together a dress rehearsal of sorts. Ideally, major position battles are settled by that point. It's tough to have a dress rehearsal without one of the main characters in place. If the Jets are hoping to put together an offensive performance with continuity in next week's game, they will want to have a set starting quarterback.
If the Jets want to have the quarterback position settled prior to next week's preseason matchup with the New York Giants, it's going to be difficult for Geno Smith to win the job. Relinquishing the start this weekend to Mark Sanchez is essentially forfeiting a major opportunity. If Sanchez plays competently, he could wrap up the competition soundly with a solid week of practice next week. Even if an ultimate decision isn't officially announced, a start next week for Mark Sanchez would end all discussion of a competition.
Despite the inability to make a real argument for Geno Smith if that happens, it will feel like Mark Sanchez was gifted the starting job once again. After securing the starting job as a rookie in 2009, he was backed up by Mark Brunell in 2010 and 2011, who served as a mentor instead of a serious challenger. In 2012, Mark Sanchez wasn't seriously challenged by Tim Tebow or Greg McElroy in training camp and only surrendered the job temporarily after imploding. Now, due to a combination of Geno Smith's injury and poor performance in recent practices, Sanchez is close to winning the job once again without truly claiming the job with his own play.
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