The quarterback competition is in full throttle at New York Jets training camp. All eyes are on Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, with spectators constantly searching for a sign that one has surpassed the other in the hunt for the starting job. Rex Ryan has not given many hints about who is winning the battle, but we do now know that Sanchez will be the one starting the first preseason game on Friday.
When looking at this decision, I don’t see it playing a significant part in who becomes the full-time starter for Week 1. But I do think the Jets are passing up a valuable opportunity to test Smith’s progress against a tough defensive line. It would be a good time to evaluate his decision-making abilities and maturity, both of which have been in question throughout training camp. Giving Smith the starting role against the Detroit Lions would force him to make quick reads and smart plays in the face of a defensive line anchored by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
That’s not such an easy task.
So, while offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, insists that Sanchez has earned the first start with a strong showing at camp, the Jets should be more concerned with finding out where Smith is in his progression. Sanchez needs no real audition, as he’s had three years to show the Jets what he can do. The starting job is clearly Smith’s for the taking as long as he proves he’s ready for it. Why not give him every possible opportunity to earn it?
Before the end of the preseason, the Jets need to know whether or not Smith is ready to lead the offense. While training camp drills give coaches a good idea of where he’s at, nothing is a better indicator than a live game. Until Smith steps up and truly earns the starting job, Sanchez will have the edge as a veteran. But if Smith is given enough opportunities to outshine his competition, the rookie might make it very interesting.