The New York Jets were fortunate to get great value with their second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft when they snagged the top-ranked quarterback on their draft board in Geno Smith with the 39th overall selection.
Despite a lot of unfounded slander in the wake of that selection, the Jets are thrilled to have Geno Smith aboard, and the 22-year-old has wisely left all the extracurricular stuff behind him and is just focusing on the task at hand.
Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are aware that Smith may need some seasoning before he’s ready to be an NFL starter, but that hasn’t stopped them from pushing Smith hard to see how he handles it.
After the sudden retirement of David Garrard, who I at one point had pegged as the early favorite to win the quarterback competition in training camp, Smith is now primarily battling with fifth-year pro Mark Sanchez.
I believe that of the quarterbacks on the Jets roster, (Sanchez, Smith, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms) only Smith is guaranteed a roster spot. Sanchez’s chances were definitely helped by Garrard’s retirement, however.
From all accounts, Sanchez and Smith have both looked pretty good so far in OTAs, with Sanchez citing a level of comfort and confidence in Mornhinweg’s offense that he hadn’t had in years past as a primary reason for that.
However, when mini-camp and training camp get underway this summer, Geno Smith has a very real opportunity in front of him to prove that he’s more than a project quarterback who the Jets will be counting on down the road.
Rookie GM John Idzik has preached a mantra of internal competition in camp at every position on the field to bring out the best in everybody, something that worked very well for him in his days with the Seattle Seahawks.
Last season, the Seahawks also had a rookie quarterback that they drafted on the second day of the draft who was allowed the opportunity to compete for a starting job. We all know what happened next for Russell Wilson.
Geno Smith is not Russell Wilson, which isn’t a knock on either quarterback. The point is, the players who earn playing time based on merit will be on the field for the Jets come Week 1, just as they were for Seattle last year.
I believe that Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback of the New York Jets in 2013. The only question is whether that’s in Week 1, Week 7, Week 13, etc. It’s up to Smith to earn that spot, and that’s what practice is for.
Today, as the calendar flips to June, Sanchez is likely the frontrunner to win the job out of camp. But that’s far from guaranteed. If Smith impresses in camp and emerges as a viable option, he’ll have a chance to be the guy.
Many Jets fans may have a Sanchez hangover, and they would want to see Smith as soon as possible. That’s completely understandable. But the key is to get Smith in there based on merit, not any sort of favoritism.
Make no mistake, if things go the Jets’ way, Geno Smith is quarterback of the future. In training camp, it’ll be up to him to show his coaches that the future is now. The opportunity is there for the taking. Make it count.
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