The New York Jets quarterback competition has turned into a complex.
In a strange turn of events, the outcome of that competition has become less a part of the story than what the results of that competition mean for Rex Ryan's future as head coach.
Ryan has come under some heat — deservedly so — for his decision to put quarterback Mark Sanchez into the game in the fourth quarter of a preseason game, behind a second-string offensive line. Sanchez was injured several plays later.
The question, though, is whether it was fully his decision at all. As the Jets have already told us, though, every decision is made with a "collective opinion," as referenced by GM John Idzik.
"John and I are really like shoulder to shoulder on decisions that we make," Rex reminded us on Monday.
The opinion may be collective, but the accountability is not. Rex faces the Jets media, their knives sharpened, on nearly a daily basis. Idzik is out of the spotlight.
It's possible. Ryan simply made the decision to put Sanchez in, without talking to Idzik. It's not likely, though, given what Idzik said about the decision making process just one month ago.
"When you look at who is going to play, Rex and I are going to talk about that freely," Idzik said. "I like to believe, it has been the case so far, that if you put in that time and effort when you make the decision you feel like it’s a “we” decision it’s not on one individual."
The circumstances for Smith's removal from the game seemed fair enough: he stunk.
Rex admitted as much, in calling Geno's effort "the good, the bad and the ugly." The good came early, on an eight-play touchdown drive capped off by a 22-yard touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu.
The bad came on three interceptions, each exponentially uglier than the one before it. The first was thrown just slightly behind wide receiver Ryan Spadola on a post pattern. The second was sailed well over the head of tight end Kellen Winslow going over the middle. The third was a quick out, intercepted by defensive end Justin Tuck who read Smith's eyes and leaped to make the grab.If all that weren't bad enough, it was capped off by a miserable safety where Smith's lack of field awareness was on full display.
As bad as Geno stunk, the decision to replace him with Sanchez in the fourth quarter of a preseason game stunk worse.
It's unclear whether Rex went rogue on the decision, or whether he was under strict orders to get Sanchez at least some playing time that night. Regardless, whoever made the decision deserves the blame for the result.
The whole situation also served as a reminder of where Rex stands this season. He is held accountable for all the decisions, even if he's not the only one making them. Of course, he's part of the "collective opinion," but he's not all of it — not when Idzik tells the media he has a "pretty big role" in determining who the starting quarterback will be.
Geno's first start on Saturday proved that he's not yet ready to assume that role for Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Given the Jets current situation, though, they may have no choice.
No collective opinion can change this predicament, and if the chips continue to fall like this for Rex, he may not be part of the collective opinion on his future with the team.
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