The New York Jets have decided that Geno Smith will start at quarterback Saturday against the New York Giants, according to multiple reports. This decision is assuming that Smith’s sprained ankle is healed enough for him to play, but all indications appear to point to him being ready to take the field.
Mark Sanchez had a golden opportunity to take control of the Jets’ QB battle against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but instead he turned in another mistake-filled performance, including an interception in the end zone. To be clear, Sanchez remains the favorite to win the starting job, but if he had played better against the Jags, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.
This is Smith’s last chance to wow the coaches and win the starting job. The third preseason game is the most important one, and all of the starters on both sides of the ball will play well into the third quarter. Smith should receive nearly half a game’s worth of reps with the first team, so this will be by far the biggest test of his young career.
In order for Smith to win the starting job, he needs to display much better command of the pocket than he did in his first preseason action against the Detroit Lions. In that game, Smith was clearly uncomfortable stepping up in the pocket, and too often he opted for check downs that had little chance of gaining more than a few yards.
Although Sanchez remains the favorite, Smith can win the job with a strong performance. He must stay turnover free in this game, and that will be one of the most important factors the coaching staff evaluates him on. The Jets need a quarterback who can run the offense effectively and without mistakes. They are not looking for an Aaron Rodgers kind of player (although they’d love that, but let’s be realistic here), just a game manager.
This is a huge opportunity for Smith, and one that he is lucky to receive. Sanchez failed to end the competition last week, so now Smith will get his shot to do that. If he can turn in a strong performance, he just might earn himself the starting nod for Week 1.