The New York Jets went into opening day on Sunday as underdogs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — very understandable, given all of the question marks surrounding the Jets, especially at the quarterback position.
With the shoulder injury to Jets’ veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez, rookie Geno Smith got the nod on opening day for the Jets. Once this was announced, some “experts” not only picked the Jets to lose, but lose big.
However, Smith and the Jets had other ideas.
After what it looked to be heartbreaking loss, the Jets got a lucky break due to a dumb personal foul penalty as a Bucs’ defense hit Smith late as he was running out of bounds with only a few seconds left to play in the game. Jets kicker Nick Folk then proceeded to kick the game-winning field goal with two seconds left to lead the Jets to a thrilling 18-17 victory.
What was one of the most impressive players for the Jets in that 18-17 win was — wouldn’t you know it, Geno Smith.
Smith, who was hurt for most of the preseason and struggled in practice with the team, threw 24-of-38 for 256 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in his first ever-regular season game in the NFL.
Now Smith did have some struggles early on in the game as he fumbled the ball at the Jets’ own five-yard line and threw an interception when he overthrew the check down receiver, but both turnovers came in the first half. Smith did not let those turnovers rattle him at all as he maintained great composure, protected the ball and did not force any throws in the entire second half.
If it wasn’t for his scramble at the end of the game that led to the 15-yard personal foul penalty, the Jets would have never gotten into field goal range to win Sunday’s game.
So with Smith leading the Jets to a comeback victory, have we officially seen the last of Mark Sanchez?
I think yes. With a possible torn labrum in Sanchez’s shoulder, he could be done for the season anyway. But if he does return, it will be as a backup. Smith showed some promising signs and had great poise for a rookie, and if he keeps winning, then why take him out?
Also, if Smith does lose more than he wins, and if Sanchez comes back at all this year, it would be too late for him to save the season — so why not just let Smith continue to start and gain more experience since the Jets did draft him to being their quarterback of the future?
I would say that no matter what happens from this point forward this year and in the future, Sanchez will not start another game for the Jets ever again, and that should be music to any Jets fans ears.