“We know the fan base would like to see Geno Smith out on the field. The reality is, Geno might not be ready. Now [Mark] Sanchez might not be ready,” Joe Namath, arguably the greatest player in New York Jets history, said regarding the Jets quarterback situation. At this point, Broadway Joe could probably lace up his spikes and compete for that job himself because it doesn’t seem that Jets head coach Rex Ryan is overly eager to give it away to any of his current options.
With the Jets set to kick off their season on Sunday Sept. 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it appears Ryan will have little choice, but to give the starting job to rookie Smith. The Jets drafted Smith out of West Virginia with the 39th pick. Some blame Smith’s immaturity and pre-draft diva attitude as the main reasons he fell out of the first round.
That diva, who threw three picks in the only serious preseason action he was given, now appears to have the keys to a Jets vehicle that is speeding toward a cliff.
And even though Ryan still hasn’t stood behind the podium and endorsed a leader for his team, that hasn’t stopped the Jets from making moves to improve the position, adding Brady Quinn earlier in the week – wait, Brady Quinn?
Quinn threw eight picks in 10 games with the Kansas City Chiefs last year, which means he’ll fit in just fine with the other Jet quarterbacks.
Quinn arrives only a week after New York writers were praising Matt Simms for asserting himself as a legitimate contender to be the Jets third-string quarterback. Sanchez bruised his shoulder and appears to be out for another month, making Smith the de facto starter and opening a window for Quinn.
So, the Jets quarterback situation has become so underwhelming that we are now discussing the competition for the third-string job? Ryan will do his best to convince fans that the organization has added depth to its quarterback pool, but the truth is that the water is shallow and the Jets are still drowning.
Of course, it is entirely possible that it doesn’t even matter who the Jets put behind center when there’s just as little confidence in who is catching the ball. Santonio Holmes is injured to start the season and appeared on the verge of mutiny at the end of last year’s disappointing campaign. Stephen Hill is returning for his second season after an injury-ridden rookie campaign and can’t be relied upon as a game-breaker, while Jeremy Kerley serves best as a possession receiver.
And even receivers that Sanchez managed to develop some chemistry with over the past five seasons won’t be back. Braylon Edwards’ second stint in green was cut short when the Jets released him in August. Dustin Keller, Sanchez’s favorite target, left for Miami, where he wasted no time promptly getting hurt again. But wait, Sanchez isn’t the quarterback anymore; right Rex? Rex?
The running game isn’t any more comforting, with Bilal Powell serving as one of the preseason’s few bright spots. Besides Powell, Chris Ivory is averaging two yards per carry in the preseason.
Offseason acquisition Mike Goodson hasn’t had impressive stats either, with one arrest for weapons and drug possession and a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Now, Powell really does seem like a bright spot by default.
But this is exactly the Jets that we expected going into the draft. There is no true leader, no player ideally suited for the role he’s being handed and no position that can honestly be identified as a strong point.
Ryan had success in New York with a strong running game and arguably the best defense in football. But now he is without either and is being exposed for what he really is: a very good defensive coordinator with no solutions on offense and a knack for exacerbating any delicate locker room situation.
There is no strength on which Ryan can lean, and that’s why at the end of this season, he and the Jets will be parting ways, and likely, Mark Sanchez will be leaving with him. A losing season will essentially guarantee that this quarterback controversy will be the last of Ryan’s many controversies in New York.
If only there were a way to spice up this quarterback competition even more – to bring in a player truly qualified, who’s won at every level, with experience in New York and a “unique skill set” to take the Jets to the next level. But where can we find such a person?
Wait, the New England Patriots released Tim Tebow? He’s available? That might be crazy enough to work.
In reality, prayer may be the only thing that can help the Jets this season.