Sanchez or Geno? Who knows at this point for Jets

Geno Smith appears not ready for prime time, and Mark Sanchez

might not be ready for the opener.

Now what for the New York Jets? Well, they have less than two

weeks to solve their big quarterback question before they face

Tampa Bay on Sept. 8 in the regular-season opener.

”We said from Day 1 that there was no timetable on us

announcing a starting quarterback,” coach Rex Ryan said

Monday.

And, there’s no rush, of course – except when you consider that

the preseason is nearly over and the Jets still have no clarity on

the situation.

Smith was given an opportunity to possibly seize the starting

job last Saturday against the Giants, but came up with a dismal

performance that included three interceptions and taking a safety

when he stepped out of the back of the end zone.

Sanchez, who appeared in great shape to win the competition, is

now recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in garbage time

against the Giants – and could keep him out for the start of the

season.

It is conceivable, of course, that the Jets could keep everyone

– the media, fans and opponents – guessing until the Friday before

their game against the Buccaneers.

”We’ll probably have our decision before that,” Ryan said.

”But as we said, we’re not going to rush the decision until we’re

completely comfortable with that decision. And, we’ll stay with

that.

”Hey, I don’t know what else to say about it.”

Ryan is probably a bit surprised he’s even still talking about

the competition at this point. After all, it was deemed an ”open

competition” that would be decided when one of the quarterbacks

had elevated himself above the other.

But, it has been so tightly contested that there was no clear

opening, an opportunity for most observers to say, ”That’s the

guy.”

Until Saturday night.

That’s when Smith showed his inexperience in his first NFL start

with some jitters, mistakes and missteps through three-plus

quarters.

”It (was) pretty uneven,” Smith said. ”I had some ups and

downs. It’s all a part of the learning curve.”

It’s a curve that could continue through Thursday’s game against

Philadelphia and into Week 1 against Tampa Bay. Ryan said the Jets

haven’t yet determined who’s playing against the Eagles, but

Sanchez will certainly not.

Many fans and media assumed Sanchez, with a solid camp and

preseason performance, had clinched the starting job after Smith’s

performance. But then, Ryan wanted to see more of Sanchez, who went

into the game and had his right shoulder crunched by Marvin Austin

after completing a pass with less than 6 minutes left in the fourth

quarter.

Sanchez is day to day with the injury, which neither he nor Ryan

would detail. Sanchez is staying positive, though, about

potentially being ready for the season opener.

”That’s the goal,” Sanchez said. ”Every injury is different.

It’s all subjective at this point, and I’m going to do everything I

possibly can. That’s all I can promise.”

Sanchez refused to speculate about possibly losing the starting

job, which he has held since coming into the league in 2009,

because of the injury. He also wouldn’t go into what type of

rehabilitation process he faces.

”Emotionally, you’re just upset, and that’s really where your

head’s at,” he said. ”You’re just upset to be hurt. You never

want to be hurt. You work too hard to get hurt and it’s just a

bummer. So, you just rebound, rehab your butt off and get back as

soon as possible.”

And, if he’s not ready to go against Tampa Bay, the starter

could be Smith – by default. One thing’s for sure: It won’t be

either Greg McElroy or Matt Simms, who has had an impressive camp

while competing for the No. 3 job.

Smith has shown some promise this preseason, and come a long way

with improving his footwork and picking up Marty Mornhinweg’s

offense. The Jets claimed they needed much more film on Smith to

better evaluate him after he sat out a game with a sprained ankle,

and they certainly got it against the Giants.

”With Geno, there was the good, the bad and the ugly,” Ryan

said.

The good was the two scoring drives he led in the 24-21 overtime

win, including a 22-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. The

bad was the interceptions, although Ryan credited Justin Tuck for

making a ”great play” on one of them. As for the ugly, that was

the safety when Smith lost track of his surroundings on the

field.

Despite all of that, Smith insisted that if the decision came

that he would be the Week 1 starter, he’d be ready to lead the

Jets.

”Yes, I am,” he said. ”I’ve been working hard, extremely hard

this offseason. I’m preparing myself to be a starter Week 1 and if

I’m given the chance, I’ll be prepared for it.”

Sanchez, meanwhile, wouldn’t say whether he thought he had won

the starting job before his injury.

”I feel like I’ve put together a great camp and it’s been my

best camp,” he said. ”That decision is going to be up to the

coaches. So, we’ll see.”

NOTES: WR Santonio Holmes, taken off the physically unable to

perform list last Friday, participated in positional drills as he

works his way back from a foot injury suffered in Week 4 last

season. … CB Antonio Cromartie (hip) rode a stationary bike,

along with Sanchez, CB Dee Milliner (calf) and NT Kenrick Ellis

(back), during the 30-minute window of practice the media could

watch.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org