The New York Jets’ Quarterback Competition: A Roundtable Discussion with Turn on the Jets


Dec 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) drops to pass as Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) rushes during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 28-9. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets’ quarterback competition is, and will be, one of the biggest stories of training camp, if not the biggest. Can Mark Sanchez hold the fort and get one more chance? Will the future be now, with Geno Smith winning the job? What about the talented veteran, David Garrard? The others? There is a lot to discuss on each of these candidates.

So, we bring you a special post today. We reached out to our friends at another top Jets’ blog, Turn On the Jets, and invited them to join us in a roundtable discussion about the competition.  They do many roundtables as well, so Joe Caporoso, editor in chief of Turn on the Jets, graciously agreed.

Without further adieu, we present our joint roundtable.  It will alternate between Jet Press staff, and Turn on the Jets staff for as long as we can alternate.  We will let the visiting team go first, a la baseball:

Joe Caporoso – I am looking back towards how the quarterback competition played out in Seattle last summer between Tavaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson. Despite a part of me thinking that Mark Sanchez will pick up Marty Mornhinweg’s offense and play well enough this summer to win the job, I currently feel more comfortable betting against him than betting on him like I did last year. So here is what I think happens, we see Sanchez filling the Jackson role, Garrard filling the Flynn role and Smith filling the Wilson role (not saying he will perform as well as he did his rookie year though).

Idzik, Mornhinweg and every other new person in this organization has no ties to Sanchez and had a hand in bringing Garrard and Smith to the team. If a perfect world, the Jets want to see Smith seize the job and Garrard fill in as a veteran backup and mentor to their young quarterback. It is going to take a stellar summer from Sanchez, an injury to Garrard or a disappointing summer from Smith to prevent the opening day depth chart from not being to Smith-Garrard-Greg McElroy.

Yes, I am saying I think Mark Sanchez will be on the team through July and into early August while the Jets quietly look to trade him and then eventually cut ties with him if they can’t find a partner by mid to late August. Smith should be able to be competent enough for the Jets to hand the reigns to him from week 1 or at least have confidence that he can take the job from Garrard by mid-season. Rex Ryan will have no hesitation to start a rookie since he went to the AFC Championship Game with a rookie under center.

The Jets have put together a deep group of running backs behind a strong run blocking offensive line. You know they are going to play good defense. They won’t put too much on Smith’s plate early and I think he impresses enough to start day one. If he doesn’t, Garrard (IF healthy) will begin the year but likely eventually give the job over to Smith.

Alan Schechter: Anybody who reads my work knows that I, like Sydney, am a huge Sanchez supporter.  That being said, I realize that finally, we are going to have a competition where he is not going to be handed the job.  He is going to have to work for it this time.

This competition is going to be a three-man race, between Sanchez, David Garrard, and Geno Smith.  Matt Simms will not be involved, he is around because of his last name more than anything else.  I also believe Greg McElroy will not be a factor, because if the Jets felt that he was the quarterback of the future, they never would have chosen Geno Smith.  So the choice will be down to three very quickly.

With Mark Sanchez, you know what you have.  You have a guy that has his excellent moments, but struggles with accuracy and decision-making.  You don’t know what Geno Smith is going to be at the pro level, especially right away.  There is going to be a learning curve, no matter what the expectation is.  And Garrard?  Garrard is a talented quarterback, but the question will be how much he has left.  He has not taken a regular season snap since 2010, and we will all see soon enough, how much he has left.

The result?  As much as Jets fans don’t want to hear it, Mark Sanchez will win the job.  Geno Smith will not be ready, and the Jets are not going to force him into the role.  Could he be starting by mid-season?  Very possible.  But they are going to let him get his feet wet, as the Giants did with Eli Manning during his rookie year.

I just don’t believe David Garrard will show enough to beat out Mark Sanchez.  Sorry, Jets fans.

Aug. 4, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback David Garrard (9) during a scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Giasone – For the first time in years, the NY Jets quarterback competition looks like it will be an actual competition. The days of Rex Ryan telling fans Mark Sanchez needs to earn the job despite never being thrust into an actual competition are over.

But heading into camp, the Jets still lack a distinct presence at the QB position. Despite the fanbases overwhelming confidence in David Garrard, the truth is, the Jets will have to make do with some less than ideal players battling to lead the team out of the tunnel in Week One.

With that being said, as of May 8th Garrard looks to be the favorite to land the job. But there are two very big concerns with Garrard heading into this competition, as both his age and injury history likely have Rex Ryan and Marty Mornhinweg sweating and rightfully so.

If Garrard can stay healthy heading into Week One, I believe he’ll earn the starting job. If he can’t, the most likely scenario is that Mark Sanchez will hold the fort for as long as it takes second round draft pick, Geno Smith, to learn the offense. There’s no sense rushing Smith on the field if he’s overwhelmed.

I think it’s also safe to assume that Greg McElroy and Matt Simms have about as good a chance at landing the job as either you or I do. And both will be lucky to see their names on the roster if Smith and Garrard impress in camp.

Sean Lester Durham:

Another Jets off-season, another “QB competition” it seems and this one has a bit of mustard on it. (if you will?)

Jets GM John Idzik has done nothing but stressed the emphasis he’s placed on competition at ALL positions and so far from my view-point it would appear as if Idzik is serious about his sentiments.  Idzik doesn’t have any ties to any of these QBs unlike his predecessor Mike Tannenbaum so I truly believe him when he says that the QB competition is an open one. That said I do have somewhat of an idea as to how this competition while unfold. For starters I need to make clear what I WANT to happen and what I believe WILL happen are 2 totally separate things. In the end I ultimately want the best for the team and not just one individual and that’s a sentiment I believe that isn’t shared by everyone in JetNation, fans and media alike. I do believe its OK to admit that this Jets QB competition is probably shaping up to be a solid one a one that probably holds more merit and respect than the farce we called a competition last offseason.

Top 3 QBs heading into Jets camp should be Mark Sanchez, David Garrard and Geno Smith. I do love Matt Simms and Greg McElroy but we’re at the point where tough decisions need to be made that affect players that have promise and upside and McElroy and Simms are 2 of those players. We’ll probably cut 1 of the 2 and place the other on the practice squad leaving Sanchez, Garrard and Smith as the 3 QBs on the roster for now.  Mark Sanchez is in prime position to excel in this competition as he’s a perfect QB for the West Coast offense, already has a connection with the starting WRs (Holmes, Kerley, Hill and probably Edwards) and seems to be a bit motivated and hungry at the moment.

Forget all the things Sanchez is saying right now, none of that matters and it will never matter. What matters right now is how Sanchez separates himself from the rest of the QBs in camp and what type of confidence and swag he carries while doing so. Right now Sanchez is walking a fine line between being named the starting QB of the NY Jets…..again and being cut and on the streets looking for work. There’s no doubt that this is what is driving Sanchez and what should be motivating him throughout this competition but unlike last offseason, Sanchez is facing real competition this offseason with the presence of veteran David Garrard who was well on his way to winning the Dolphins QB competition last offseason before injuring his knee and rookie Geno Smith, who was arguably the best QB prospect in this past draft.

However you may feel about Smith and Garrard, at the very least we know they’re not Tim Tebow and Sanchez certainly should be looking over his shoulder this summer because both Garrard and Smith are much, much more solid passers than Tebow was/is and both (for their own different reasons) have just as much hunger, motivation and determination as Sanchez appears to have during this process.  I fully expect Mark Sanchez to look sharp and on target during this competition with Garrard right behind him. The monkey wrench that we need to be looking out for is Garrard’s knee. If Garrard’s weak knee can’t hold up then Sanchez’s path to the starting job will get that much easier as I don’t believe Smith will be able to compete with Sanchez and Sanchez will start the season but if Garrard’s knee holds up, look for the competition to go down to wire and Garrard starting will then become a real possibility and frankly we don’t know if that would be what’s best for the team or not now do we?

Apr 26, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Geno Smith (West Virginia) is introduced as the number thirty-ninth overall pick to the New York Jets during the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

TJ Rosenthal – The Jets QB competition may look like this: Mark Sanchez will know the playbook and perform reasonably well in practice after rigorous study sessions with Jeff Garcia this offseason. Geno Smith will show athletic flashes as well as rookie inexperience. David Garrard will come out of the gates steadier than Sanchez but not as dynamic as Geno. Greg McElroy will provide unglamorous insurance and act as an inside source for reporters who want to know about what it’s like to be part of the drama. The “competition” will result in no player shining through enough to be considered as the clear winner. This stalemate will mean that the week one starter will be the guy that John Idzik really wanted at QB1 following the draft in the first place.

Dec. 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) throws the ball during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports


It’s no secret that Santonio Holmes is not a fan of Mark Sanchez, and he’s certainly showed his frustration with Mark in the past. I think Santonio is happy to see anybody other than Mark or Tim Tebow in the Quarterback mix. If Santonio turns his back on Mark it could get ugly. When players start picking sides (not to mention someone of Tone’s caliber), it can damage the locker room. But once Geno and Tone build some chemistry, both on and off the field, the sky is the limit.

Rex Ryan wants to win now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark starts a few games into the regular season, but ultimately, it’s Geno’s job to lose. When Sanchez proves he is the same guy that had 50-plus turnovers in the past two seasons (league worst), Rex will turn it over to Geno.

Of course the Jets would love for their QB situation to play out like it did in Seattle last year where  the hotshot rookie takes the job and runs with it. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely for a QB to make a splash the way rookie Russell Wilson did last year. What the Jets are going to do is have an honest competition where Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, and Geno Smith will battle it out for the starting job. Jets fans may not like to hear this but Mark Sanchez will win that competition and be the starting QB week 1 against Tampa. I’m not saying that means he will stay the starter for long, but I think he will get the first crack at it as Geno Smith develops on the bench.

On the bright side, Idzik has done a nice job setting up the QB with an improved offensive line and two very solid running back additions in Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson. The offense has been sorely lacking a major pass catching threat out of the backfield the past two seasons and now Goodson and even rookie fullback Tommy Bohanon can provide that. Don’t be surprised if Sanchez plays well enough to keep Geno on the bench til 2014.

Debbie Schechter:

The Jets have a very interesting situation with their starting rotation of quarterbacks. Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, David Garrard, Greg McElroy, and Matt Simms are an interesting bunch.

You have a guy who got cut during camp last year (Simms), a guy who hasn’t played a down in almost two years (Garrard), a rookie (Smith), a QB who hasn’t gotten a fair shake (McElroy), and the incumbent who was good for two years but fell off the pedestal like Wile e Coyote (Sanchez).

Garrard was a solid quarterback but the guy can’t stay healthy to save his life. I honestly think that the starting job will come down to McElroy and Sanchez. Smith isn’t ready yet… That might change once camp starts but I think it’s going to come down to the two NY veterans. I have a sneaking suspicion that Sanchez could take it but I really think that McElroy might be the #1 QB.

Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager John Idzik speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Gross:

By now, it is no secret that the New York Jets will take 5 quarterbacks into mini-camp next month. While General Manager John Idzik has preached competition at every position, it would be foolish to believe that all five of these players will be brought into training camp as well. There simply are not enough reps to go around late in the summer to get an accurate assessment of the players, as well as getting the eventual starter enough time with the starting offense. Ultimately, this competition will come down to three players – Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, and David Garrard.

To me, Garrard will end up as the backup one way or another this season. The starting position will come down to either Sanchez or Smith. Can Smith’s presence push Sanchez out of his recent slump and help him return to the quarterback we knew in 2010? Or is Sanchez all but done in New York, with it now being Smith’s turn to try and reverse the fortunes of the quarterback position for this franchise? Ultimately, I believe Smith ends up beating out both Sanchez and Garrard this summer. At that point, Sanchez will be shopped on the trade market, most likely to a team that has lost a quarterback due to injury. If he cannot be traded, he will be released and the Jets will begin the season with Smith as the starter, Garrard as the backup, and Greg McElroy as the number 3.

Vincent Hall:

Trying to figure who will win this quarterback competition is like guessing the weather a month out.  Even if you think you have an idea, you don’t really have a perfect picture.  I can draw a picture based on historical data of Sanchez, Garrard, and McElroy, but not Geno Smith.

My first assumption is that Geno Smith won’t play in 2013.  I base this on the fact that Rex Ryan is pro- Sanchez, and Marty Mornhinweg does not have a track record of starting rookies over veterans.  Therefore, unless Geno Smith blows away mini camps, and has an 80% completion percentage against first string defenses, I will go on record as saying he will ride the bench and learn the ropes as the 3rd string QB.  That’s right not 1, not 2, but 3rd string.

David Garrard historically is a 61% passer, some years a little above, some a little below.  However, he has a trend his last 3 seasons of starting. He had 7, 14, and 11 fumbles his last 3 seasons as a starter with the Jags, add to that he had 13, 10, and 15 interceptions those last 3 seasons.  That is an average of 23+ turnovers a season in his best years.  Sanchez’s average his past 3 seasons has been 27 combined fumbles and interceptions.  Sanchez averaged 22 TD’s per year the past 3 years, Garrard averaged about the same losing out by about 2 touchdowns overall in  a 3 year span.  If the thinking is that Garrard can come in as a proven veteran with more accuracy, and better ball security, he’s not going to win this battle.  Add to that he is 35, while  Sanchez is 26 and you see where I’m going.  It’s unlikely Garrard wins any QB competition.

Mark Sanchez had 2 positive years, followed by 2 down years.  His third year, however, he accounted for 32 touchdowns.  While many are quick to point out his double-digit turnovers, I would also be quick to point out the 32 touchdowns which was 11th most out of 32 starting quarterbacks in 2011.  The 2012 season was more of an aberration than a norm, thanks to the injuries.  There was no continuity, which made it impossible to build on the bright spots of 2011.  Career wise he’s a 55% completion rate, but because of his slow rate of improvement I would expect this number to creep up to roughly 60% in a more QB friendly offense.

Last but not least is the dark horse Greg McElroy.  If I had to bet today, Greg McElroy has the most to gain from this competition.  He’s a born winner.  He won in high school, he won in college.  He had a 70+ % completion rate his final year of college at Alabama.  He’s entering his 3rd season, he started one game last year and got a taste.  In that one game he had 200+ yards passing, and a 60% completion rate.  This offense is going to be all about running, and completing a lot of short and intermediate passes.

If I had to make that bet today, McElroy will be the most impressive in the quarterback completion, but he still won’t start.  I see Sanchez doing just enough to show improvement, and even though he won’t statistically beat out McElroy, he will start.  McElroy will be the back up QB, having shown enough, that he can start and push Sanchez.  Geno Smith and David Garrard will be a distant 3rd and 4th respectively, which means Garrard gets cut.  Sanchez starts, McElroy 2nd string, Geno Smith sits and learns for a year and possibly more depending on the season.

Dec 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 28-9. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports


It is no secret that I am a big Sanchez supporter. It’s because I look at the picture as a whole and not just the downfalls or slide and decline. I see the forest and not just the trees and that’s why I can still say with confidence that I think Mark Sanchez CAN and WILL be a starting QB in the NFL in coming years. The problems Sanchez has now are many of the same he had in college and coming out of it. The argument that he declared early and shouldn’t have, that he should have listened to Pete Carroll and stayed in school are going to follow Mark around for as long as the infamous play from Thanksgiving night that I refuse to name will. With only 16 games (and Rose Bowl MVP) under his belt at the time the Jets moved up to #5 to draft him, people really shouldn’t be surprised that the Jets staff that has NEVER coached up a QB wasn’t able to help Sanchez overcome the deficits that followed him from USC. He was known to panic a bit in the pocket, to stare down his receivers.

But this year there’s a real chance for Sanchez to succeed. WCO is a perfect fit for him. He’s never had a problem with preparation, despite what the media want people to believe. Give him some receivers, a running back who, you know, runs, and some decent protection and the mental mistakes will cut down, the confidence will build up. The best scenario for the Jets AND for Sanchez is to provide him with a corps of players around him that wouldn’t rival the guys cut from the JV team at the local high school (the likes of which he had last year), a coaching team that actually believes in him and let him win a few games to build his confidence AND his value. The problem isn’t so much what the team will allow, it’s what the fans will. And I think that, in the end, may be the key. At Week 1, I predict it will be Sanchez on a short leash as starter, with Garrard as backup and Geno Smith learning the ropes from both guys. Simms’ and McElroy’s days are numbered beyond being arms in camp and some insurance in case Garrard is the weathered player some assume he is. This IS Mark Sanchez’s job to lose. And he very well might, but it won’t be without having a few weeks under center in the regular season to prove whether or not he deserves to hold the ball or the clipboard. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by Mark Sanchez this year. And yes, in a good way.

We thank Joe Caporoso and his staff from Turn on the Jets.  Please check out his site, Turn on the Jets, as Joe, and each one of his writers, bring excellent thoughts to the table, and compelling reads with every entry.  Check them out today!

So, what do you guys think?  Sound off below.