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New York Jets: QB Competition Remains A Mystery After First Preseason Game

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

During the New York Jets‘ preseason debut on Friday against the Detroit Lions, fans once again saw both good and bad from Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.

On his third passing play, a screen was intercepted by rookie Ezekiel Ansah, which resulted in a 14-yard touchdown return. Sanchez responded with an excellent scoring drive to cap off New York’s next drive. Overall, last year’s starter finished 10-of-13 for 125 yards.

Besides statistics, Sanchez also showed some decent pocket presence when actually given time. Solid throws to Ryan Spadola and Jeremy Kerley demonstrated offensive ability to make explosive plays. Adding this dynamic was what they wanted to do when they switched their offensive philosophy. Rebounding from such a mistake allowed Sanchez to recapture glimpses of past glory.

His primary opponent also received playing time in the second quarter. Rookie Geno Smith utilized his much talked-about arm strength to find Clyde Gates for 15 yards. Smith left early after rolling his ankle, however. In limited action, he finished by completing six of seven passes for 47 yards. The injury took place while Smith was attempting to scramble.

After he left, Greg McElroy took over, going 11-of-19 for 145 yards and a touchdown. This came against backups though, and head coach Rex Ryan recently confirmed through that McElroy is only competing with Matt Simms for third string position. New York’s rookie should be okay going forward.

Smith still could play in Gang Green’s second exhibition against the Jacksonville Jaguars depending on his progression. It is still too early to gauge who has an advantage.

Yes, Sanchez looked sharp while leading his offense to that scoring drive, but the interception proved once again how he keeps making rookie mistakes like not looking off coverage. Smith also made some nice throws, but also looked confused at times.  Such behavior may be typical of a new NFL player, though it creates some hesitation to throw him out there for the team’s first regular season game.

Neither individual has made much separation as Ryan’s quest to name a starter continues.

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