The Jets had a plan for the quarterback competition between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. Less that two weeks into the preseason, that plan is in shambles.
When the Jets drafted Smith in the second round of April's NFL Draft, they did it with the hopes that he would supplant incumbent starter, Sanchez, to be their quarterback of the future. Rookie GM John Idzik came out and said that he would have a say in who the starter would be, taking away some of the control over head coach Rex Ryan, who is in the final season of his contract.
The Jets have given Smith every chance to wrestle away the job from Sanchez. The two QB's alternate reps with the first-team offense every two days. Going into preseason week 1, Sanchez was named the starter against the Lions, although at that point, it looked like Smith had had the better performance of the two through two weeks of camp.
In that game, Sanchez played like the Sanchez of old. He threw an pick-six and then turned around and thew a TD pass later in the first quarter. Smith finished the game going 6 of 7 for 47 yards. While he was accurate, he did not lead a scoring drive.
During the third, the Jets' plan hit a huge snag when Smith rolled his ankle and left the game. An MRI showed he had suffered only a sprain. When the Jets resumed practice, Smith returned to the field, hobbled ankle and all. It was a testament to Smith's character to want to practice with the injury. It showed his commitment to making himself and his teammates better while at the same time expressing his desire to lead by example.
The part of the Jets' organization, led by Idzik, who signed off on letting Smith practice all week on a gimpy ankle may see that plan blow up in their collective faces. Smith played okay during practices on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, he had his worst practice since getting drafted, which Ryan referred to as "brutal". He threw four interceptions. Three of them coming during 11-on-11 drills. He looked slow and obviously hobbled.
The Jets have named Sanchez as the starter for their game on Saturday night. Smith is listed as probable, but still may not play. The team is expected to announce their Week 1 starter prior to the third preseason game. That game is usually the last dress rehearsal for the starters before the regular season begins where the first team usually plays three quarters. Ryan has already stated that he may rest all of his starters in the last of the four exhibition games.
By allowing Smith to practice on the injured ankle without giving it time to heal, unless Sanchez has a woeful performance tonight, he will likely be named the starter going into the regular season. Smith will be forced to watch from the sidelines to start his career.
Jaguars face the Jets tonightat 7:30 et on the NFL Network.