All about Rex, Sanchez & Smith for Jets in 2013
The big question for the New York Jets heading into training
camp was simple.
Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith?
With the regular season closing in, the Jets are still looking
for the answer.
Sanchez is dealing with a banged-up right shoulder that could
keep him sidelined a few weeks. Smith, meanwhile, showed he might
not be ready to start immediately as a rookie after a dismal,
turnover-filled preseason performance against the Giants.
”We said from Day 1 that there was no timetable on us
announcing a starting quarterback,” coach Rex Ryan said.
But the fact the Jets have gone several weeks into a competition
that has produced no clarity doesn’t bode well for a team that
could be hard-pressed to match its six-win total from a year ago.
It could also be taking so long because Ryan knows the decision
could directly affect his future with the team. Pick the wrong
quarterback and the season could get ugly in a hurry.
Especially with the regular-season opener against Tampa Bay on
Sept. 8 coming up quickly.
”It’s a competition and the best man for the team will get the
job,” Smith said. ”It hasn’t been decided yet, so we’re still in
the evaluation process.”
With that said, here are five things to look for as the Jets
prepare for the start of the season:
2 QBS OR NO QB?: There appeared to be a breakthrough in the
quarterback competition last Saturday night when Smith, getting his
first NFL start, struggled against the Giants’ starting defense.
The second-round pick had been running just about even with Sanchez
until that point. So, most would have assumed Sanchez was in
position for his fifth straight opening-week start. Well, not so
fast. Ryan decided to play Sanchez in garbage time against the
Giants, and Sanchez injured his shoulder – casting doubt on whether
he’ll even be ready to play in the opener. That means the Jets
could be looking at a raw, inexperienced rookie under center
against Tampa Bay. ”They’re going to make the decision when they
feel the time’s right,” Smith said. ”So, it’s my job to keep
competing and keep going out there and work hard in practice.”
VEXED REX: When owner Woody Johnson announced in January that he
was retaining Ryan as coach after firing GM Mike Tannenbaum, some
wondered why the Jets wouldn’t just start from scratch in all
areas. Johnson insisted Ryan was the right person to lead the
franchise, and Ryan said he was treating his second chance as if it
were his first day on the job. It has been a different Ryan –
thinner, quieter, less entertaining – than the Ryan who came to the
franchise in 2009. New GM John Idzik has also installed a new more
buttoned-up approach that has many wondering if he and Ryan will be
able to mesh. From the quarterback decision to day-to-day matters,
it will all factor in if Ryan remains beyond this year or if Idzik
goes in another direction. ”With John and I, we’re side by side
and on every decision that goes into it,” Ryan said. ”Who plays,
who’s making the team, all those types of things, we’re side by
side with each other.”
DEE-LITE: It seemed inconceivable not long ago that the Jets
would ever part ways with Darrelle Revis, a shutdown cornerback who
was the team’s best player since Curtis Martin. But, sensing a
contract would never get done that satisfied both sides, Idzik
traded Revis to Tampa Bay a few days before the draft. Then, with
their first pick – No. 9 overall – the Jets selected Alabama star
cornerback Dee Milliner. While Antonio Cromartie is charged with
replacing Revis as the team’s No. 1 cornerback, Milliner is being
counted on to start immediately and help offset the loss of Revis,
as long as he’s healthy. He was sidelined in the offseason while
recovering from shoulder surgery and missed time in the preseason
with a sore calf.
PLAYMAKERS: No matter who the quarterback is, Marty Mornhinweg’s
offense lacks game-changing players that opposing defensive
coordinators will lose sleep over. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is a
nice player with sure hands and a solid slot presence, but the
receiving corps is relatively thin – especially if Stephen Hill
isn’t over his problems with drops and Santonio Holmes isn’t fully
healed from a foot injury that sidelined him since Week 4 of last
season. The Jets are hoping the speedy and powerful Chris Ivory
emerges as a legitimate No. 1 back after being buried on the depth
chart in New Orleans. Jeff Cumberland has been called ”a complete
tight end” by Ryan and could be a red-zone threat, but is still
DOMINANT DEFENSE?: Ryan proclaimed that the Jets will have a
top-5 caliber defense, and he might be right because of a nice mix
of youth, speed and athleticism. That’s even with seven projected
new starters. It also is expected to be the overwhelming strength
of the team. And, it better be, just to keep the Jets in ballgames.
Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is a rising star and Sheldon
Richardson a promising rookie, but losing linebacker Quinton Coples
to an ankle injury for an undetermined amount of time is a big
blow. Linebacker David Harris needs a bounce-back year, and
second-year linebacker Demario Davis must provide the playmaking
ability Bart Scott once did. ”I am out of the prediction
business,” Ryan said, ”but I know where I believe everything is
going to end up.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org