The New York Jets have announced that Mark Sanchez will get the start in the team’s first preseason game Friday night against the Detroit Lions. The coaching staff went out of its way to praise Sanchez’s performance in camp, and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Sanchez “earned” the right to start.
Don’t buy into the hype. Unless Geno Smith looked like John Elway in training camp, Sanchez was always going to start the first preseason game. Sanchez is the incumbent, the veteran and the ever so slight favorite to start on opening day. Those are the real reasons he will go first on Friday.
Sanchez also has very fragile confidence, and he only has partial support of his teammates to go with absolutely zero support from the fans. There has already been at least one public (if anonymous) quote from a teammate saying that Smith is better than Sanchez, and Sanchez was booed by fans during the team’s Green and White scrimmage. The coaching staff is doing what little it can to keep Sanchez’s psyche in tact.
Neither Sanchez or Smith has been overly impressive in camp, and the team has to be concerned about what it will see on Friday. The Lions will likely be very cautious in using their top defensive players, so both quarterbacks should be able to get reps against what will essentially be Detroit’s second team defense.
Somebody will need to step up and stand out in the game Friday in order for us to get an indication of which direction this QB battle is headed in. Sanchez and Smith are neck and neck right now, which means that they can very easily play their way in or out of a job in the coming weeks.
The fact that Sanchez is starting Friday is irrelevant, but his performance won’t be. The quarterbacks will be the focus, and whoever performs better will likely start the second preseason game. That will be telling, and that player will have the edge in the quarterback competition.