JET PRESS EXCLUSIVE: Interview with WFAN Beat Reporter Chris Lopresti

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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. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Good afternoon Jets fans. In getting ready for tonight’s game against the Jaguars, we have a special treat for you. WFAN reporter covering the Jets in 2013, Chris Lopresti agreed to sit down for a brief interview with the Jet Press. Take a look at our conversation:

THE JET PRESS:What is the general vibe around the team heading into 2013? There is a lot of talk, as you know, about it being a rebuilding year. Does this team feel like a team that is ready to surprise people?

CHRIS LOPRESTI:The general vibe, at least at the beginning of training camp, was a fresh start. Everyone in the organization wants to forget about what happened in 2012 and get things back on track here in 2013. John Idzik inherited quite a mess from the departed Mike Tannenbaum back in January and, for the most part, I think he’s done a nice job of hitting the reset button and getting the Jets back to square one.

That being said, I don’t think the QB competition has gone as smoothly as they would have hoped (more on that later). That is, by far, the most important decision for Idzik, Rex Ryan and the coaching staff heading into the season opener. If they screw it up, things could quickly go south because you’re dealing with a VERY frustrated fan base. Most of them have had enough of Mark Sanchez and never want to see him start another game. Right now, Geno Smith’s development & health (or lack thereof) have prevented us from getting a good feel for how the competition will play out. Stay tuned!

TJP:What about the QB competition? They have been known to split locker rooms. Everyone is saying the right things, but in fact, is the locker room still united? Do you have a feel for who might be leading, despite the fact the team says nobody is?

CL:The QB battle is certainly all the rage among fans & media types. It gets all of the headlines and dominates Rex Ryan’s daily press conferences but, at this point, I don’t get the sense that it’s dividing the locker room. I’ve heard multiple players be very complimentary of both QB’s (and Greg McElroy too) but nobody has really stepped up and revealed a preference.

I think Sanchez is well-liked and well-respected by the players who have been around him for a few years. His on-field performance leaves a lot to be desired but he’s a good teammate, carries himself like a professional, and handles all of his media obligations with class & dignity. However, it’s easy to see why the Jets were so high on Geno and the type of long-term potential that he possesses. Some of the veterans have been very impressed with his physical skills, specifically his arm strength & accuracy. On top of that, any questions about his character/attitude/leadership seem to have been left behind at West Virginia. He hasn’t had any issues thus far. In fact, he seems to be fitting in well with his teammates and definitely earned some respect by fighting through the ankle injury this week.

Rex continues to say that the competition remains open and that they’re not ready to make a decision. I believe him when he says that but it seems pretty clear that Sanchez has separated himself from Geno…at least for now. The pick 6 against the Lions was absolutely horrendous but give Sanchez credit for bouncing back and finishing strong with an impressive TD drive at the end of the 1st quarter. He did the same thing in the Green-White scrimmage; played poorly at the start but finished with a bang, hitting Stephen Hill for a 57-yard TD pass on the final play of practice.

Again, Geno has been very impressive at times but is also dealing with some inconsistencies. That’s to be expected from a rookie QB and was really the only thing holding him back before the ankle injury. He didn’t miss a single rep in practice this week but the ankle was clearly bothering him and then he turned in his worst performance of training camp on Wednesday morning (4 INT’s).

I honestly have no idea if he’s going to play against the Jaguars tonight and the Jets have certainly done their best to keep it a secret. I disagree with those who say he shouldn’t have been practicing this week. The X-rays and MRI both came back clean. In fact, Geno said that the injury isn’t even considered a sprain. I’m sure he’s getting a ton of treatment and rest when the team isn’t on the practice field. They worked for about 2 hours each day and a lot of that time was spent installing plays/packages at half speed. Plus, Geno wasn’t taking every rep or experiencing any sort of contact from defenders. He needs the practice time if he plans on fully grasping this offense and giving Sanchez a run for his money.

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