32 Questions for 32 NFL Teams: New York Jets

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith
Aug 9 2013 Detroit MI USA New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith 7 looks to pass in the second quarter of a preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field Andrew Weber USA TODAY Sports

As we count down to the NFL season, Sports Jerks is bringing you 32 questions in 32 days. Each day, we’ll feature one of the most important questions for a different NFL team heading into the opening weekend of the league.

Today’s feature team and question?

The New York Jets – Will Geno Smith take Mark Sanchez’ job in 2013?

After a somewhat surprising rookie season in 2009, Mark Sanchez’ honeymoon with the New York Jets’ fans is long since over. It’s not as if the quarterback was perfect (or even very good) that season. In fact, the stats show that Sanchez played like, well, a rookie. In his first NFL season, Sanchez completed 54% of his passes, threw for a modest 2,444 yards, and had 20 interceptions to go along with only 12 touchdown passes.

Still, the rookie made an impression on New York’s fan base. Sanchez wasn’t applauded for those numbers, rather, he was cheered for nearly leading the Jets to a Super Bowl. New York ultimately fell short of the big game, losing to the Indianapolis Colts, but taking the team to the AFC title game was an amazing feat in itself.

Unfortunately for Sanchez, despite the fact that he’s improved as a quarterback, it’s not been enough to bring the Jets the kind of success fans have clamored for during his tenure as the starter. He has gotten better over the years, but only marginally. In addition, Sanchez not only failed to improve last season, but most would say he regressed, throwing more interceptions than he did touchdown passes for the first time since his rookie year in 2009.

Sanchez has been able to hold off other quarterbacks in the past, but that could change in 2013. Grabbing what some considered a steal, the New York Jets landed West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft this spring. Geno was widely regarded as a first-round pick and even believed to have a chance at being selected in the top ten. With a legitimate quarterback in the fold, could Sanchez’ time be up?


Now, Smith isn’t a lock to replace Sanchez this season. However, the reason he was taken is because, ultimately, the team feels that he’s the quarterback of the future. Otherwise, what would really be the point in drafting him? There’s certainly a quarterback competition and Smith will be given a legitimate shot to win the job.

Smith is a bit of a dual-threat quarterback that thrived in West Virginia’s system under coach Dana Holgorsen, but more passer than runner. He threw for over 8,500 yards in his junior and senior seasons with the Mountaineers and his 73 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions are enough reason for many fans to want the rookie to start immediately.

If you’re thinking a rookie won’t unseat Sanchez, think again. Rex Ryan is exactly the type of coach that doesn’t mind shaking things up and he won’t hesitate to play the younger Smith if he thinks it’s the right move. In addition, with Ryan’s seat getting a bit warm, there’s no reason for him not to play the best quarterback. Ryan needs wins sooner than later and if Sanchez can’t provide them, he’ll gladly turn to Smith. Not only could Smith start at some point this year, he could even begin the season as the top quarterback as the job is officially open.

One thing that could give Sanchez a bit more time? An injury. Smith exited Friday’s preseason game prematurely with a rolled ankle. He did return to practice on Sunday and took the majority of the reps, but if it hampers his play, Sanchez could win the job.

Even if Sanchez begins the season as the starting quarterback, he’ll be on a short leash with Smith breathing down his neck.

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Anson Whaley
Anson Whaley is a freelance writer with more than 16 years of experience. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a current member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Mr. Whaley has also been a credentialed member of the media for various events. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');