Heading into training camp the prevailing thought amongst the beat writers was that during OTAs and mini-camp Mark Sanchez was leading the quarterback competition. We heard that Geno Smith was struggling to learn the playbook and verbiage as well as his footwork being suspect. Rich Cimini went as far as to say “bet the house” on Sanchez starting week 1 of the regular season. What a difference a few practices have made.
The headlines during training camp so far have all been about how Smith has improved. He has been running out of the read option as well as performing well under center and showing off a rocket arm. It has gotten to the point that during today’s practice Sanchez was barely mentioned at all during Smith’s excellent day working with the 1st unit. The momentum for Geno Smith is building each day and Jet Nation is getting more and more excited. Braylon Edwards compared Geno Smith to Russell Wilson in both terms of ability and how he handles himself which is very high praise especially since Edwards is known as a Sanchez supporter. Sanchez has played fairly well and the fact that Smith is still gaining on him means that Smith is doing well enough to win the job through good play not by default if Sanchez was playing poorly.
Neither quarterback has an interception in 11 on 11 drills. That statement in itself is a testament to how much emphasis has been put on protecting the football and how hard both quarterbacks have worked. Sanchez’s 52 turnovers over the past two years have crippled the offense and seeing both quarterbacks value the football makes me believe that David Lee and Marty Mornhinweg have been the two most important offseason additions. Getting competent quarterbacking this year from whomever wins the competition could be the difference in the Jets surprising their critics and making the playoffs.
As much as Smith has the momentum now, things can change in a hurry so getting carried away with a few practices is not advisable, but it is great to see how fast Smith is coming along. It will be fun to see both he and Sanchez go head to head at the Green White Scrimmage next Saturday as well as the preseason games that start one week from Friday. The quarterback job is not going to be handed to anyone, however, it is going to have to be earned and whomever wins will be better off for it as will the Jets.