This year's NFL draft has come and gone in the blink of an eye. The Jets addressed some serious needs (an attempt to replace the loss of Revis in drafting CB Dee Milliner, 9th overall) and ignored others (no TE or WR for a team that desperately needs help offensively.) Since the beginning of time, it seems, there's no bigger question left unanswered than who will start at quarterback for the NY Jets.
Many fans were ecstatic to hear WVU QB, Geno Smith's name being called for the 39th overall pick. While others, like myself, were left scratching their heads wondering why? Fortunately, part of the circus act, by association that is, Tim Tebow, has since been cut from the franchise. This creates a four (true) QB competition for the starting job in August. And yes, I'm still counting Greg McElroy in that contest. But not Matt Simms. But which QB has the best realistic shot at obtaining the starting role?
My pick is old #6, Mark Sanchez, and here's why:
(More after the jump...)
Greg McElroy: Lets start with the least likely candidate to get the job first. As high as I am on this Alabama University alumni, there isn't a realistic shot at getting the job. Regardless of his high school and college intangibles, Rex Ryan just won't start him. It could be his weak arm, or lack of experience (1 start in 2012.) But I personally think Ryan is making a mistake not starting a guy that had only 3 losses as a starting QB in high school and college combined. I believe he'll be a successful NFL quarterback, just not here in the New York Jets circus.
Preseason Prediction: 4th string or cut by week one.
Geno Smith: A lot of Jets fans may love him, but I sincerely think they're basing that completely off of highlights and inflated statistics at a Big 12 school, that previously was Big East. Oh, and he's not Mark Sanchez. That too. But once again this is about a realistic chance at starting, and did any of you realistically watch him play last year?
He put up STELLAR numbers. 69-34 win against Marshall, 42-12 rout of (FCU) James Madison, 31-21 win over Maryland. Hell, they even beat the then #9 Texas Longhorns 48-45. In the first 5 game span of his senior season, he threw 24 touchdowns to 0 interceptions. And was very flashy in doing so. It's a shame none of those teams were any good. When West Virginia finally played Texas Tech (unranked), Geno could do nothing against their defense, throwing for only 1 touchdown and 247 yards en route to a 49-14 loss. It was the same result against the juggernaut, #12 Kansas State, throwing 1 TD to 2 interceptions with 143 yards thrown in a 55-14 loss.
These weren't even SEC schools that are known for breeding nasty defenses and he struggled. Not to mention 50% of his 71.2% completion rate on the year, were throws completed 5 yards or less from the line of scrimmage (AQ-high 112 screen passes last season.) I'm hoping he fares better against better teams than his numbers indicate, but it might take a couple years of sitting back and learning first. Not this year, Mr. Smith.
Preseason Prediction: 3rd string, possible late season debut.
David Garrard: The old, most experienced, and almost forgotten acquisition this offseason, is still here to compete for that starting role. And if it weren't for him missing the last 2 seasons due to Jacksonville drafting QB Blaine Gabbert in 2011, releasing him and Garrard opting for surgery on a herniated disk... and then a knee injury in 2012 and early release by Miami...he'd be the favorite to start right now.
There's just too many question marks surrounding his ability to maintain competitiveness on the NFL level and stay healthy. But that's what training camp and practice is for. The Jets seem pretty confident though, signing him to a one year deal worth up to 1.1 million.
Preseason Prediction: 2nd string, eventually taking over the starting role.
Mark Sanchez: Finally, we have butt fumbl.. Err, Mark Sanchez. Yeah, that's our QB guys. As much as everyone is sick of seeing Sanchez being Sanchez, he knows the Jets and may fit into a West Coast Offense very well. More so than any other QB, besides McElroy. He has a relationship with all the receivers on the team, and has thrown to them more than anyone else. He's also 'brought' the Jets to back to back AFC championship games. Even if the organization is leaning towards Geno being the future leader (which I doubt), Rex Ryan isn't ready to give up on his 1st round pick of his 1st head coaching job.
Like him or not, he's shown moments of greatness. Don't mistake that for "being" great, because those are two different qualities. He lacks consistency and sometimes makes very silly decisions, (i.e. throwing into triple coverage, over-throwing/under-throwing receivers, running into his own linemen, and fumbling the ball.) Although, the collapse of the 2012 season wasn't entirely his fault. The Tebow circus was in town, he was sacked 34 times, Santonio Holmes suffered a season-ending injury Week 4, and newly acquired WR Stephen Hill peaked game 1. Every other game after he looked like he couldn't catch a watermelon thrown 5 yards out.
I, for one, despite all of that, am eager to see if Sanchez can finally step up in the face of the hungry NY media looking for any reason to make a headline, and shut the critics up by playing up to his full potential. Only time will tell, but in this rebuilding year, time is all Jets fans have.
Preseason Prediction: Starting QB, eventually losing job to David Garrard midseason.