Jets head coach Rex Ryan has seen enough from veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez to know that he's not the answer to their question at quarterback.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News has reported that Rex is ready to move on from the fifth-year quarterback and former fifth overall pick in favor of rookie Geno Smith.
The decision is painfully obvious — almost as painful as Sanchez's shoulder injury, which will keep him out for at least Week 1 of the regular season, probably longer. Even if Sanchez weren't injured, he'd still be...well, Sanchez.
He turned the ball over a league-high 52 times from 2011 to 2012, and there's no indication that would have changed, given what we saw from him in the preseason, with one turnover in each of the three games he played (two interceptions, one fumble).
According to the report, though, the Jets were leaning toward naming Geno the starter after just the first couple weeks of camp. They were pleased with how quickly Geno grasped the offense, and also how he performed against Ryan's defense in practice.
Geno doesn't carry the promise of an immediate change of fortune for the Jets — not if his preseason showing against the New York Giants is any indication.
If the Jets are rolling with Geno, though, they are at least partly confident that they can tailor the gameplan to his strengths and weaknesses. Expect to see a lot of short passes and/or timing throws where the ball comes out quickly to a read that is designed to be open. There will also be some read-option elements in the offense to capitalize on Smith's athleticism — although the read-option was not something he did extensively at West Virginia.
Make no mistake, though — a rookie quarterback does not necessarily mean a balanced approach on offense with a heavy dose of the running game. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg made that crystal clear after the Jets called 16 running plays and 42 passing plays in their preseason opener.
"Who said you need to be balanced?" Mornhinweg said. "You score points throwing the ball. Now you're getting into a philosophical situation. Look, we don't care how we get it done — running, passing, we don't care who gets the credit. It's whatever it takes to win the next game."
Smith could be asked to carry the burden for this offense.
At this point, though, the Jets can't turn back to Sanchez. They are all-in with Geno this season, which could give Rex Ryan a built-in excuse if the Jets don't play well.
Rex's job may have been in jeopardy had the Jets struggled with Sanchez, and had to pull him for Smith at some point during the season. Smith is a rookie, and growing pains are to be expected.
So, Geno is a winner because he gets to start in his rookie season. Rex is a winner because he may have a little more job security for the next 12 months. General manager John Idzik is a winner because the future face of the franchise, and Idzik's third pick as GM, gets to start from the beginning of the season. The Jets offense is a winner because while the current product may not be much different than it would have been with Sanchez, the ceiling is higher.
It seems, then, the only loser in this whole ordeal is Sanchez, who now has to wonder when, or if, he'll get another shot to be an NFL starting quarterback.
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