FLORHAM PARK, N.J. —
It’s Geno Smith’s time.
The rookie quarterback will start for the New York Jets in the season opener at home Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team announced the decision through its Twitter feed Wednesday, finally confirming what had been expected since Mark Sanchez injured his right shoulder in a preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 24.
Smith, who had an up-and-down preseason, was the team’s second-round draft pick out of West Virginia after he was projected by many to be selected early in the opening round.
“We are excited about that,” Ryan said in an interview posted on the team’s official website. “I’ll tell you, Geno, before he had the injury to his ankle, really looked tremendous.”
After Smith threw three interceptions and took a safety in three-plus quarters against the Giants, it was widely assumed Sanchez had won the job. But Ryan chose to put Sanchez in the game in the fourth quarter — and he suffered the injury that could sideline him several weeks.
Ryan said Smith “really fits” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast-style system that he has implemented in his first season with New York.
“The whole team, I think, really is excited,” Mornhinweg said in an interview on nyjets.com, “and ready to rally around Geno Smith.”
The Jets also have the inexperienced Matt Simms, who had a terrific preseason, and recently signed journeyman Brady Quinn. But with Sanchez not ready to play Sunday, the choice for Ryan, Mornhinweg and general manager John Idzik was easy.
“We’ll go through some ups and downs, I guarantee you that,” Mornhinweg said. “Knowing Geno, hopefully there will be more ups than there are downs.”
Smith was off to a great start in training camp, going several practices without throwing an interception and outperforming Sanchez on some days. But Smith sprained his right ankle in the third quarter of the Jets’ preseason opener at Detroit and didn’t play in the second game against Jacksonville because of the injury. He started against the Giants, with the general thought being he could potentially secure the starting job with a solid performance.
Instead, Smith showed his inexperience during a miserable performance that appeared to tip the tightly contested competition in Sanchez’s favor.
“Obviously, we had a major setback when he had the ankle injury, which set him back a little bit,” Ryan said. “But right now, he’s really back to where he was before he had the ankle injury, which is really driving the football with this big talent that he has, that big arm. I think it’s going to be exciting.”
The quarterback situation changed when Sanchez took a crunching hit to the shoulder from the Giants’ Marvin Austin. The Jets have said only that Sanchez — the starter since his rookie season in 2009 — was day to day with simply a “shoulder injury.” The fact he hasn’t practiced since, and the Jets signing Quinn on Monday were signs that Sanchez’s injury was more serious than the team was initially letting on.
“It’s unfortunate that Mark was injured, obviously,” Ryan said. “He is working extremely hard to get back, but he’s just not ready right now.”
With Smith stepping into the starter’s role, it makes Sanchez’s status with the team unclear. Ryan has still never declared a winner to the competition — and he might not ever do so. If Smith can be solid during Sanchez’s absence, he could make it hard for Ryan to pull him. And, by never saying whether Smith or Sanchez had won the job, Ryan could get away with not saying he had benched the starter either way.
“We’ll see what the future holds,” Ryan said. “But clearly, (Sanchez) is not ready.”
Sanchez was once considered the future of the franchise, a terrific talent with GQ looks, and consecutive trips to the AFC title game in his first two years drew natural comparisons to Joe Namath. But Sanchez struggled over the next few seasons, including an NFL-leading 52 turnovers the last two years, and failed to develop into the elite passer the Jets had hoped.
Ryan benched Sanchez for a game last season and it appeared his days in New York were numbered. His contract, however, and the $8.25 million in guarantees for this year made him unmovable. So, it appeared the Jets would let Sanchez compete with veteran David Garrard for the starting job.
During the draft in April, the Jets went for defense with their two first-round picks, selecting cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. But when their pick came up in the second round and Smith was still available, they jumped at the chance to take him.
In May, knee trouble caused Garrard to retire, leaving the competition between Sanchez and Smith.
A few months later, Smith has the opportunity to try to prove he might be the franchise quarterback the Jets have been looking for — starting Sunday against Tampa Bay.
“We are definitely confident that Geno’s out there,” Ryan said. “I think all of our guys are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. —
It’s Geno Smith’s time.
- Latest Sports
Bradshaw or the field?
If a betting window were set up on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs for the 81st West Virginia Open Championship, which begins at 8 a.m. this morning, the most popular wager would probably be David Bradshaw against the field.
Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league
Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.
Home sweet home away from home
When Greenbrier owner Jim Justice was handed a copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Sunday, his eyes lit up like a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on a cold December night.
Miners take series with Paints
The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.
Post 32 rips Parkersburg 19-3 in American Legion tournament
The double play in baseball is said to be a pitcher’s best friend. If that is the case, an 11-run inning by the offense is a very close second.
Former Mountaineer standout Gaddis making career in MLS
Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis may consider Indianapolis his hometown, but make no mistake about it, the Mountain State will always have a place in his heart.
WVU's Fleming signs with Yankees
Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
WVU to kickoff 2018 season against Tennessee in Charlotte
The Charlotte Sports Foundation (CSF) announced Tuesday morning that it has secured a regular season college football game for the city of Charlotte pitting the University of Tennessee against West Virginia University.
Beamer sees turnaround for Hokies
Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer painted a rosy picture of the Hokies’ prospects during Monday’s Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff press conference in Greensboro, N.C.
Picnic with the Saints
The New Orleans Saints are coming to town, and fans will have the chance to share in the excitement at Picnic with the Saints this Saturday at the AdvoCare Sports Performance Center at The Greenbrier. INCLUDES UPDATED PRACTICE SCHEDULE.
- More Latest Sports Headlines
- Bradshaw or the field?