How many QBs does it take to have an official “quarterback controversy”? In the minds of most, usually two or even sometimes three players can muddy up the picture of who will start. The New York Jets? Well, they now have six quarterbacks after drafting Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
When new Jets GM John Idzik said he wanted an open competition for the starting quarterback position, I guess he really meant it.
The list of hopefuls in this (ahem…) highly sought-after job?
Incumbent Mark Sanchez, fan favorite Tim Tebow, little regarded Greg McElroy, veteran journeyman David Garrard, and practice squad forgotten man Matt Simms all will join in with Smith to battle it out for the anointment of starter by head coach Rex Ryan.
Ok, so let’s be honest. Simms realistically has little chance of even being bumped up from the practice squad, less yet being the starter for the regular team, so cross him off right away.
That leaves Sanchez, Tebow, McElroy, Garrard and now Smith. Someone has got to go…actually, more than just one someone has got to go.
I’m going to call McElroy the first casualty. He brings little to the table that the rest have, and he wasn’t very impressive in his spotty play thus far. The Jets are going to try to distance themselves from the past QB debacle as much as possible, so in my mind Greg McElroy won’t be on the roster coming out of camp.
Tim Tebow is another story. Reports are that he’s 15 pounds lighter than his 2012 playing weight, and that he’s been tirelessly working out at the Jets facilities during the offseason. This should come as no surprise to anyone that knows Tebow’s tenacity and stubbornness to give in. The Jets still see something they like in Tebow, and although reports had them releasing him shortly after the draft, he may still have a place on this team.
It’s doubtful that Garrard will get the nod as a starter, being as the Jets probably brought him in more as a mentor and insurance policy should things go bad like they did in 2012. But things being what they are with the Jets, if Garrard has a strong camp and plays well in the preseason, anything is possible.
Sanchez, who is seemingly tied to the hip of head coach Rex Ryan, is in the worst position of all. The Jets stayed in contact with Sanchez throughout the process of them drafting Geno Smith, and so it’s clear they weren’t just going to cut and run. But truthfully, Sanchez has little chance at regaining his starting job.
New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said of Sanchez’s chance to start, “He understands this is a competition now, so let’s rock and roll,” He continued. “Here, we have four — even more, maybe six — and I hope they’re all thinking, ‘Hey, I have an opportunity to go win a job.’”
The biggest hurdle for the newly drafted Smith in this competition is going to be transitioning from the spread offense that he played in for two years as West Virginia, to the Mornhinweg’s West Coast offense, which requires the QB to be under center rather than in the shotgun where Smith is accustomed to playing. The complex West Coast offense also requires very sophisticated footwork, which is not one of Smith’s strong points.
Smith doesn’t feel he’ll have any problems making the adjustment, and is filled with confidence coming into a joke of a QB depth chart. “My goal is to be a franchise quarterback,” he said. “But, as of now, there’s a lot of work to be done.”
The understatement of the year, perhaps?
What could possibly emerge from this murky picture is Sanchez and Garrard splitting some time under center to start the season, while the Jets bring Smith along as quickly as possible to make him into an eventual full-time starter.