Analysis: On Mark Sanchez starting vs. Jags

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
10:51
AM ET

Quick takeaways from the Jets' announcement Thursday morning that Mark Sanchez will start Saturday night against the Jaguars:

1. No surprise: Clearly, Rex Ryan was leaning this way Wednesday when he ripped Geno Smith for his "brutal" practice. One thing I found interesting: In announcing the starter on Twitter, the Jets made no mention of it being Ryan's decision. It was presented as a team decision. This is noteworthy in light of GM John Idzik declaring early in camp that he will have "a pretty big role" in the picking the quarterback -- an ill-advised statement that did nothing but undercut his coach's authority.

2. Sanchez, likely winner: Unless Smith plays like Aaron Rodgers next week against the Giants -- assuming he plays -- the Week 1 starting job will go to Sanchez. Jets Nation won't be happy.

3. The ankle boo-boo: The Jets dropped the ball by making Smith practice all week on a tender ankle. Now there's a chance he won't play at all against the Jaguars, likely forcing them to extend the competition another week. Why didn't they give him a couple of days off? Two reasons: It was only a minor ankle sprain, I'm told, and Ryan didn't want to create the perception that Smith was being coddled, a la Sanchez. I think Ryan wanted to give Smith a chance to show his toughness to his new teammates. I can see where he's coming from, but it would have been better to err on the side of caution.

4. What now? Ryan will address the matter on a 3 p.m. conference call with the media, but from all indications, it looks like the competition will be extended to the third preseason game. That would hurt the overall development of the offense.

Instead of using the Giants game as a final tuneup, playing the starters for about three quarters, the Jets would still be evaluating their quarterbacks. So let's say Smith starts and plays the first half and Sanchez plays a quarter. That would rob Sanchez -- the likely Week 1 starter -- of two quarters of reps. That's a considerable chunk of time considering Ryan doesn't play starters in the preseason finale. The issue would be magnified because it's a new offensive system, so every rep is important.

5. Geno fan club: If Ryan gives Smith a shot against the Giants, it shows how badly the organization wants to replace Sanchez. It's waiting ... waiting ... waiting for Smith to give them something -- anything -- to validate making him the starter.

6. Nothing comes easy: If anyone expected this quarterback competition to go smoothly, you haven't been paying attention for 40 years. Forget 40 years; how 'bout the past 17 months? Just Google "Tim Tebow" and "debacle" and you'll understand.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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