During the New York Jets‘ first preseason offensive series, Mark Sanchez threw a bad interception that was returned for a touchdown by Ezekiel Ansah. Sanchez clearly should have thrown the ball into the ground and taken an incompletion on the slow-developing screen play, and his poor decision had Jets fans thinking he was picking up exactly where he left off in 2012. They were ready for Geno Smith.
But Sanchez came back for the next two drives and rebounded tremendously. Unlike the Sanchez of 2012, he was given enough time to make throws down the field, and he did so with pinpoint accuracy. He capped off his final drive with a 26-yard touchdown strike to Jeff Cumberland, finishing the night 10-of-13 for 125 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Sanchez commanded the offense well and looked very much in control, minus the early mistake.
When Smith entered the game in the second quarter, fans were waiting for the rookie to show them something special. But he didn’t. He made a couple of quick and easy throws, going 6-of-7 for 47 yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury. While Smith didn’t make any glaring errors in his first game, he failed to give the Jets’ offense much of a spark. Additionally, his ankle injury puts him at risk of missing practice time and falling behind in the quarterback competition.
Everything that happened in the Jets’ first preseason game on Friday gave Sanchez the edge to be the Week 1 starter. He showed great poise and maturity in bouncing back from an early mishap, plus Smith did nothing to impress the coaches in his time on the field. Though fans have booed Sanchez at every phase of training camp, he’s put forth the type of performance worthy of earning the starting job. Unless Smith puts on an incredible showing from now until the end of the preseason, Sanchez will have the advantage in the New York quarterback competition.