AFC East: David Garrard

Michael Vick, graybeard.

It doesn't sound right, does it? Not long ago (or so it seems), Vick was considered one of the NFL's most lethal weapons, a quarterback with sprinter's speed and a cannon for an arm. He still believes he has "unbelievable talent," but his birth certificate indicates he's closer to the end than to his prime. Vick, the oldest player on the New York Jets, turns 34 on June 26. Just recently, one of the young players called him "sir" during a practice, triggering a funny fallout.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Julio Cortez/AP PhotoCome the end of June, quarterback Michael Vick will turn 34 and will become the oldest New York Jets player on the current roster.
Everyone was amused -- everyone except Vick, that is.

"We got a good laugh off it," he said. "Seriously, deep down I really didn’t think it was funny.

"That baffled me a little bit," Vick said. "I’m not that old, and I have to reiterate that over and over again. I may be 10 or 12 years their senior, but when you start calling me 'sir' I need to start thinking about retiring."

How do you know you're old in the NFL? It's when you hear from teammates that you were their quarterback when they played the John Madden video game as kids.

"I get that all the time, not just in here, that’s all across the world, wherever I’m at," Vick said. "That’s a good thing, but it definitely makes you feel old, I can tell you that."

That the Jets are a relatively young team probably makes Vick feel older than he is. Consider: They have only eight players that belong to the thirty-something club. The others are Calvin Pace (33), Willie Colon (31), Dawan Landry (31), Dimitri Patterson (30), Nick Mangold (30), D'Brickashaw Ferguson (30) and David Harris (30). Tanner Purdum will hit 30 before the start of the season.

Don't believe for a second Vick believes he's ready for Mark Brunell or David Garrard status -- end-of-their-career backups whose sole purpose was to mentor the young starter. No, Vick thinks he can still play, and so do the Jets. They feel he can take over the offense, if necessary, while offering intangible benefits that will assist Geno Smith in his development. Basically, he's Garrard, except ... you know, better.

How Vick handles the role will go a long way toward determing whether the "unique" quarterback dynamic (Vick's word) will succeed. If he becomes a "me" guy and complains, it'll wreck team chemistry. Obviously, the Jets are betting he buys in.

Green Day: Geno should be No. 1 QB

December, 31, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Is Geno Smith The Guy?

Smith
No doubt, that'll be one of the first questions Tuesday when Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik meet the media for their season-ending news conference. They might not give an answer, hiding behind the semantics of Idzik's competition mantra, but we all know the reality: Smith will go into training camp as the starter.

He started every game and won eight, a fairly impressive feat for a rookie in a new system, surrounded by mediocre skill-position talent. Over the final four weeks, Smith posted the second-highest QBR in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

In short, he didn't do anything to lose the job -- a job, technically, he was never given in the first place. The Jets never anointed him as the starting quarterback. Again, semantics.

No one on the roster is capable of unseating Smith in training camp. Mark Sanchez? He probably won't make it to training camp; he's a likely salary-cap casualty. Matt Simms will be back, but he's not ready to push Smith. David Garrard? Great guy, good mentor, but he probably won't be back.

What about drafting a quarterback? I'd be surprised if Idzik selected a quarterback in the first or second round, one year after investing a second-round pick in Smith. They have too many other needs.

How about a veteran acquisition? Yes, the Jets absolutely must sign a competent veteran because, despite his encouraging finish, Smith still isn't proven commodity. Don't let a few solid games camouflage his 21 interceptions. They need someone who can start in the event of injury or slump. They got away with not having that guy in a rebuilding year, but the expectations will be greater in 2014.

The free-agent class includes Tarvaris Jackson, Josh McCown, Michael Vick and Chad Henne. The Jets have to spent a little extra for a legit No. 1/No. 2 quarterback, someone willing to accept a backup role.

So, yes, the Jets need to bolster the quarterback position, but there's no need for an overhaul. They have their Guy, whether they choose to tell us or not.

ICYMI: As they cleaned out their lockers, the Jets offered strong support for Smith. ... The Jets are reportedly poised to offer Ryan a one-year contract extension. ... Sheldon Richardson should be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. So says Sheldon Richardson. ... Kicker Nick Folk is looking for a pay day. ... Ed Reed wants to play another year.

Analysis: QB decision a mixed message

December, 2, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A few takeaways on the New York Jets' decision to stick with Geno Smith as the starting quarterback:

1. What it means: This decision shows the organization hasn't wavered in its season-long objective, which is to find out if Smith can be the long-term answer at quarterback. Presumably, the thinking is: If he can recover from this, he can recover from anything.

2. Lesser of three evils: Let's face it, this quarterback decision was like a riddle: A multiple-choice question with no clear-cut answers. The Jets can't possibly have confidence in Smith, who is mired in a funk for the ages. This shows what they think of Matt Simms and David Garrard. From my understanding, it was a Smith-Simms decision. Garrard never was strongly considered.

3. Mixed message: Ryan benches rookie cornerback Dee Milliner whenever he makes a big mistake, yet he sticks with someone (Smith) who clearly hasn't performed well enough at his position to maintain a starting position. What kind of message does that convey to the locker room?

4. Who made the call?: Ryan, of course, will paint it as a group decision, but you have to wonder if general manager John Idzik was the driving force. Idzik's rear end isn't on the hot seat, so he can afford to take a long-term view of the situation. Ryan needs to win now.

5. What they should've done: Smith needed time to step back and watch for a week or two. Even though he described Sunday's halftime benching as a wake-up call, it's hard to imagine him learning and improving by sitting for two lousy quarters. They should've gone with Simms for a week or two. It wouldn't have been ideal, but it would've helped Smith in the long run.

Rex won't second-guess Sanchez decision

December, 1, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three months later, the ill-fated decision to play Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter of the third preseason game still hovers over the New York Jets. Rex Ryan can't get away from it.

Ryan
"It's easy when you look back on things," said Ryan, who was asked about it after Sunday's 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins. "Injuries are part of the game. Anytime a player gets hurt, you regret that. There's no question about it. If I focus on what's behind us, it's not going to help us right now. No matter what my personal opinion is on that ... all I know is what's in front of us right now. We have to find a way. I'm not going to dwell on this or that. We just have to look forward and do what's best for the team right now."

It's an issue because, once again, the Jets are at a loss at quarterback. Ryan benched an ineffective Geno Smith at halftime, but Matt Simms failed to provide a spark. Going forward, Ryan's choices are a Smith, Simms and veteran David Garrard, who hasn't played in nearly three years.

Sanchez, two months removed from season-ending surgery, made his first appearance on the Jets' sideline.

Playoff picture: It ain't pretty. At 5-7, the Jets are behind the Dolphins (6-6) and Baltimore Ravens (6-6) for the final wild-card spot -- and both teams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jets.

Afterward, a few players sounded like they've surrendered in the playoff chase.

"It's not like the season is over ... well, it might be record-wise," tight end Kellen Winslow said. "But it's still football and we still love the game."

What happened to the pass rush? Ryan Tannehill was sacked a league-high 44 times in the Dolphins' first 11 games. The Jets' defensive line should've had a field day, but they managed only one sack (Quinton Coples).

"It's not just the defense, it's the whole team," defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said. "We haven't played great ball in all three phases -- offense, defense or special teams."

David Garrard ready when needed

November, 30, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Out of all the quarterbacks on the Jets roster, David Garrard has by far the most experience. But Garrard also had knee pain that took him off the roster not long after he was acquired in the offseason. Garrard isn't an assistant coach, however. He's a player. Is there any reason he couldn't play in the event that starting rookie Geno Smith struggled?

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Garrard
"I just haven't been dressed to be able to go in," Garrard said. "Health-wise, I'm just fine. I don't have any issues with my health or being able to play in a game or anything."

But unless the Jets roster is so depleted due to injured players, Garrard will not be active for Sunday's game against Miami at MetLife Stadium. The Jets are waiting until Sunday to decide whether WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow) and LB Garrett McIntyre (knee) are ready to play.

"We don't look to carry three quarterbacks in the game," head coach Rex Ryan said. "If he does [suit up] it's because there was nobody else, quite honestly.”

Garrard said he'd love to play, but understands his role.

"I think every player in here has dreams of being on the field -- I'm no different from anybody else," Garrard said. "But I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do and, right now, I haven't been called upon to go on the field and I'm just going to support Geno and Matt [Simms] as much as I can."

Jets lose because of QB, not D&B

November, 17, 2013
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- There's no truth to the rumor that Geno Smith was so bad at skee ball that he was replaced by Matt Simms.

Now, seriously: The New York Jets weren't blown out Sunday by the Buffalo Bills because they spent a couple of hours Saturday afternoon at a Dave & Buster's in a Buffalo suburb -- a team field trip that has garnered far too much attention. No, the Jets lost 37-14 because Smith was terrible, continuing a five-game regression that could blow up their playoff chances.

The scary part for the Jets is they have no viable alternative at quarterback. Simms is too inexperienced, and David Garrard has been in moth balls too long, leaving them little choice: It's Geno or bust for the homestretch. That can't be too comforting for Rex Ryan, whose job could hinge on his rookie.

"Just bad, man," Smith said after his second four-turnover game of the season. "The way I can sum this game up for myself is awful. I know I can play better. I know this isn't who I am or who I want to be."

This was reminiscent of the Jets' Week 4 loss in Tennessee, in which Smith was rattled early, lost his composure and never recovered. He was positively skittish against blitz-minded Buffalo, throwing more passes to the Bills (three interceptions) than he did to any one of his own wide receivers. He was pulled early in the fourth quarter, when it was 34-7.

In skee ball, you get 10 points for a bad roll. Against the Bills, Smith rolled a 10.1 -- his passer rating. It was the lowest rating by a Jets starter since Mark Sanchez's 8.3 in 2009, his five-interception rookie debacle against the Bills.

Smith was every bit as bad in this game, serving up 17 points to the Bills with his turnovers. He completed only 8 of 23 passes for 103 yards on the same day fellow rookie EJ Manuel resembled Jim Kelly. Manuel produced a 121.9 rating, shredding a secondary that was supposed to be improved with the addition of safety Ed Reed.

Smith's may have been the worst quarterback performance of the season -- anywhere. His QBR was 0.7 (on a scale of 100), the lowest for a quarterback in 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"I hate to use the word 'growing pains,' but that's exactly what it is with me," said Smith, whose turnover total ballooned 20, including 16 interceptions. "I know in this situation, with this team, we can't have that."

Even though they're allergic to winning streaks, the Jets (5-5) remain in the chase for the second wild-card spot in the AFC. But they're contention is spite of Smith, whose performance over past five games has been far south of mediocre -- only one touchdown pass and eight interceptions.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith and Manny Lawson
Kellen Micah/Icon SMIGeno Smith lost a fumble, in addition to his three interceptions, raising his turnover total to 20.
Smith will start next week against the Baltimore Ravens, according to Ryan, who softened his evaluation of the rookie by saying he was victimized by poor pass protection.

"With our protection, you could've had Joe Namath back there and I don't think it would've mattered," Ryan said.

Actually, Namath probably would've played better -- and he's 70 years old.

Smith passed for a season-high 331 yards against the Bills in Week 3, but this was a different Buffalo defense. This time, the secondary was healthy and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine -- Ryan's former right-hand man -- went after Smith with a barrage of blitzes. Against five or more rushers, he threw two interceptions and was sacked four times, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Safety Jairus Byrd, playing like a young Reed, made Smith look silly, intercepting him twice. He also was picked off by safety Da'Norris Searcy, who returned it 32 yards for a touchdown -- Smith's fourth pick-six of the season.

At least there wasn't a Behind-the-Butt Fumble.

Smith is a big problem, but he's not the Jets' only problem. They can't handle success. They became the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses through its first 10 games. That shows a lack of maturity.

This was the classic letdown. For two weeks, they were showered with praise, enjoying the glow of their win over the New Orleans Saints. The Jets acted as if they had arrived. Ryan fueled the perception last week, expressing his surprise that the Bills were favored. That, more than his pre-planned trip to Dave & Buster's, was a slight toward the Bills.

Naturally, Ryan will get ripped for the field trip. He canceled offensive and defensive meetings Saturday afternoon, hoping to shake up their routine after dropping three of their first four on the road. The Bills were aware of the Dave & Buster's respite, but they wouldn't admit it was a source of motivation. Good for them; it would've been high-schoolish for them to admit it was.

This game wasn't about a couple of hours at an arcade. This game was Geno & Busted. The Jets have a quarterback problem. They're getting no production out of the position, and they have to figure out a way to coach around Smith, who still has the support of teammates.

"My confidence level is high," guard Willie Colon said. "I'm going to ride with Geno until the end."

The Jets have no choice.

Jets address bullying issue in Miami

November, 4, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- With the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito controversy unfolding in Miami, the issue of bullying has become a hot-button issue in the NFL. Several Jets weighed in Monday, including quarterback David Garrard, who spent time with the Dolphins last season.

"I would just say he's a jokester kind of guy," Garrard said of Incognito, adding: "It's unfortunate. You never want it to get to a point where guys want to leave the team. You would hope other guys in the locker room would help police it. It's one of those situations that's sad to see."

Incognito
Martin
Garrard, released by the Dolphins at the end of the 2012 preseason, said he never noticed that type of culture in the Miami locker room.

"I remember Martin when I was there," he said. "He was quiet. He never really said much. Good player. I'm not sure exactly what happened in their locker room down there, but from what I've seen and read, it seems like it went too far and lasted a little too long. He's not a rookie anymore, but they're still doing the same pranks and jokes on him. He's just fed up."

Tight end Konrad Reuland played with Martin for three years at Stanford. He described his former teammate as, "Just another one of the guys. He's a completely down to earth, normal guy in every sense of it."

Reuland said he has no idea what allegedly occurred with Martin, whom he usually sees in the offseason.

"I just hope everything is all right with him," Reuland said.

Several players said they haven't experienced or witnessed any bullying in the Jets' locker room. There was a well-documented incident of rookie hazing in 2010, when several players tied a rookie defensive back named Brian Jackson to a goal post in training camp and doused him with ice, Gatorade and powder. It was captured on HBO's "Hard Knocks."

"There's a fair line for making a guy earn his right of passage and then there's another guy of harassing a guy and making a guy feel degraded," said guard Willie Colon, who signed with the Jets last offseason. "We're all men, we're all professionals, we all come from different walks of life, and I was always taught respect the practice-squad guy to the starter. Treat them all the same. Any time a guy feels disrespect and feels like he can't go to work and is uncomfortable, you can't have that in the locker room. At the end of the day, he's playing and he's playing for you. You have to take care of him."

It's traditional for rookies to take veterans out to dinner and foot the bill. Martin was reportedly asked to pay $15,000 for a trip to Las Vegas.

"It's a culture that's changing, that needs to change because you're messing with a guy's way of living," Colon said. "Nobody can kick up 15 grand and have to pay rent and God knows what else he has to do. I think it's irresponsible his teammates and everybody else. You got to be accountable for how you treat people, and it's tough he had to go through that. I feel sorry for him or whatever."

Jets guard Brian Winters, a rookie, said the most he's told to do by the veterans is buy burgers from a local fast-food joint.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said he has been subjected to "a little bit" of rookie hazing.

"Don't take it to heart, just laugh it off," he said. "Or you could be like me and Dee (Milliner) and talk back a little bit. There might be a little consequences that go along with it, but I can deal with it at this point in my life. It's all fun and games, and the vets know not too take it too far and they keep it all in perspective."

Richardson has been asked to buy food before away games and bring donuts on Fridays for meetings. In camp, he and Milliner got angry when their mattresses were flipped over and everything was on the floor. He still doesn't know who did it.

"Cold case right there," he said.

Garrard's wife reroutes QB to Jets

October, 23, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- While David Garrard was retired this summer, he stayed in shape by running and playing flag football with his wife, Mary, who quarterbacks a Florida women’s team called the Iron Maidens.

In their yard, Garrard would play quarterback and she would run routes, then the roles would switch. After a few months of this, Garrard started to notice that his knees -- which had been so swollen he’d left the New York Jets a few months earlier -- felt pretty good.

[+] EnlargeDavid Garrard, Mary Garrard
Courtesy of Mary GarrardA rejuvenated David Garrard rejoined the Jets on Monday, just months after pain in his knees forced him to leave the team.
“I was running a lot of routes for her, and that’s what told me I could still play,” Garrard said, “because I was doing a lot of cutting out there. When you run receiver routes you’re cutting all the time, and I never had any setbacks.”

And that’s how Garrard got to thinking about giving Jets general manager John Idzik a call.

"I think the first thing I thought when he left was, 'Man, the Jets just stole my go-to receiver,'" Mary said.

The Jets signed Garrard to the active roster on Monday, cutting backup quarterback Brady Quinn to make space, in part because Garrard still has an impressive arm and can mentor rookie quarterback Geno Smith. But Garrard said he is ready if he needs to go in a game.

“Not just [to be] a mentor, but to be ready if my number is ever called,” he said.

How did the 35-year-old quarterback, who spent nine seasons in Jacksonville, go from a point of so much pain in his knees that he had to give up his spot as a potential starting quarterback to being game-ready? After he left the Jets, Garrard found that the rest he could give him knees did more good than all the training he had pursued to get in game shape.

“I feel great now,” Garrard said. “A few months ago I wasn’t feeling so good. I was trying to do everything that I could to hurry up and get back into the league. When you’re out there on the streets you feel like the game is going by and [there] might never be a chance for you to get back in. And so you work hard, you do everything you can to finally get that workout to finally get on a team, even if you’re sacrificing rest for yourself when you need it. I just knew at that time it wasn’t working, my knee was not getting healthier.”

[+] EnlargeMary Garrard
Courtesy of Mary GarrardMary Garrard, who quarterbacks a women's flag football team in Florida, lost her go-to receiver when Jets general manager John Idzik answered her husband's call.
Sundays out of the league were tough. He’d watch teams and feel like there had to be a way he could still contribute. Plenty of friends were unwillingly retired and trying to get back in the league, so Garrard knew a return was a long shot. But Idzik gave him a chance when he called this month.

“I didn’t want to turn 50,” Garrard said, “and look back and say, ‘What if I just called somebody? What if I just reached out?’”

Mary understood where he was coming from, even if she didn’t relish giving up her other half when it came to the day-to-day of raising their three kids, including two under the age of 2.

“The other part of me was so proud,” Mary said, “because now he has a chance to end it the way he wanted to. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this excited about a season.”

She can relate. Mary missed her last two flag-football seasons with pregnancies. This January, she’ll rejoin the Iron Maidens as quarterback. There are 18 teams in the Ancient City Sports Ladies Flag Football League she plays in, with a Sugar division and a more-competitive Spice division. The Maidens, of course, compete in Spice.

Garrard offers advice, and when he gets a little too esoteric Mary stops him and says, “Let’s stick with our basic route tree.”

That rhythm has worked out well for the family; one season ends and another begins.

Garrard will be back home soon enough to run routes for his wife, but in the meantime, he is on the Jets' practice field, taking advantage of a second chance no one saw coming.

“It’s still weird to be here right now,” Garrard said. “Honestly, I was retired.”

QB Watch: Jets' Geno Smith

October, 23, 2013
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A weekly examination of the New York Jets' quarterback position:

Smith
Rewind: Geno Smith became the first quarterback since the 1970 merger to register four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his first seven games. He did it with a 30-27 overtime win over the New England Patriots. It took some luck (see the controversial "push" penalty on the Patriots) and it took some micromanaging by the coaching staff. After a 6-for-10 first quarter, Smith went only 13-for-23 the rest of the way. The coaches dialed it back as soon as he was intercepted for a touchdown at the end of the first quarter. Smith managed the conservative game plan nicely, converting on third down and running when necessary.

Fast forward: The Jets go on the road to face the Cincinnati Bengals (5-2). This will be one of Smith's toughest challenges, as the Bengals are ranked ninth in total defense. Smith played poorly against the other top-10 defenses he faced, the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 6) and the Tennessee Titans (No. 10). The Bengals aren't a big blitzing team -- they've rushed five or more on only 25 percent of the dropbacks -- but they generate excellent pressure from their front four. They will miss CB Leon Hall, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon.

New-look depth chart: The Jets made it official Monday, placing David Garrard on the active roster after a two-week exemption. Matt Simms will remain the No. 2 quarterback, according to Rex Ryan. Garrard's job is to carry the clipboard and serve as a mentor to Smith. Garrard, 35, who came out of retirement for this gig, will be paid handsomely -- $54,000 per week, based on his $925,000 salary. If Garrard is pressed into action, the Jets are in trouble in more ways than one. He hasn't taken a snap since 2010.

Prediction: On paper, this isn't a good matchup for Smith. The Bengals are a very good home team, with a talented and physical defense. Prepare for an afternoon of growing pains.

A wild ride: Nine QBs in 18 months

September, 3, 2013
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Does the Jets' quarterback situation make your head spin? Welcome to the club.

The last 18 months have been like a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone. We're talking about nine quarterbacks, three free-agent signings, three cuts, two trades, one retirement and one contract extension. Pop a dramamine, and relive the madness:

UNDER GM MIKE TANNENBAUM

March 12, 2012: The Jets profess their faith in Mark Sanchez, rewarding a mediocre season with a three-year contract extension -- a total package of five years, $58 million.

March 16: They sign former Lions backup Drew Stanton to serve as Sanchez's primary backup, giving him a $500,000 signing bonus.

March 22: Stunning the NFL, the Jets trade for Tim Tebow and name him the No. 2 backup. Hello, quarterback controversy. Stanton immediately requests his release.

March 24: Stanton is traded to the Colts. He makes a half-million bucks for a week of doing nothing.

2012 season: Pick a day, any day. Dysfunction reigns throughout the season.

UNDER GM JOHN IDZIK

March 12, 2013: On the one-year anniversary of their commitment to Sanchez, the Jets sign veteran David Garrard to compete with Sanchez for the starting job. Team officials are blown away by his workout, downplaying (or ignoring) his chronic knee condition. Privately, they say he has a good chance to win the job.

April 27: They draft Geno Smith in the second round, changing the landscape of the position. Idzik, with a straight face, calls it an open competition with six QBs -- Smith, Sanchez, Tebow, Garrard, Greg McElroy and neophyte Matt Simms.

April 30: After showing up for two weeks of off-season workouts, Tebow finally gets his release -- a foregone conclusion.

May 15: Unable to make it through a month of OTAs, Garrard announces his retirement, citing chronic knee pain -- an unexpected snag in Idzik's grand plan.

Aug. 9: Smith sprains an ankle in his first preseason game. Another snag.

Aug. 24: Sanchez suffers a significant shoulder injury because of Rex Ryan's controversial decision to play him in the fourth quarter behind the second-team line -- yet another snag in the plan. This time, it's a $715,000 mistake. Read on.

Aug. 28: The Jets sign Packers castoff Graham Harrell, giving them five quarterbacks. The depth chart is growing at a time when most teams are cutting down.

Aug. 31: McElroy is waived with an injury. Simms, their best quarterback in the preseason, makes the 53-man roster.

Sept. 1: The Jets quietly fly the well-traveled Brady Quinn into town for a workout.

Sept. 2: With Sanchez expected to miss a few weeks, the Jets sign Quinn to a one-year deal, probably for the $715,000 veteran minimum. Harrell is released. Quinn is expected to open the season as the No. 2 quarterback, essentially filling Tebow's role. That's interesting because Quinn wasn't good enough to beat out Tebow in 2011 with the Broncos.

This can only happen to the Jets.
This time last year, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was considered a project and an afterthought.

Few inside or outside the Dolphins’ organization expected Tannehill to be ready to start in Week 1 of 2012. Tannehill only had 20 career starts in college after spending much of his time at wide receiver. Tannehill also had the challenge of beating out veteran quarterbacks Matt Moore and David Garrard in training camp while learning the speed of the NFL game.

But all of that is in the past one year later. Tannehill did win Miami’s starting job in Week 1 and adjusted to the NFL's speed. He started all 16 games and led Miami to an unexpected 7-9 record. Now, Tannehil begins the 2013 offseason workouts as the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback.

“Last year at this time my head was spinning. I was just trying to figure out how things worked,” Tannehill said Tuesday. “I didn’t really know how the day went, how the offseason went, how practices went. So being in it a year, I am completely comfortable. Now I can go out and focus on all the little things that go into the game.”

Tannehill was in total command of Miami's offense during this week’s start of organized team activities. The Tuesday portion was open to the media, and Tannehill made several long completions to receivers Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace and Armon Binns. Tannehill also made the routine throws underneath to tight end Dustin Keller and others. The second-year quarterback was quick with his reads and knew where to go with the football.

It was clear that Tannehill put in the offseason work. If Tannehill can make significant strides in Year 2, that could put the Dolphins in position to make a playoff push this year.

“I guess one way to describe him is he’s a gym rat. He loves football; he’s been here an awful lot,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin explained. “He's been working out with the guys on their own, nothing orchestrated by us, well before the offseason program began. Those are all good indicators that somebody wants to be good. That’s kind of step one.

“If you don’t have players that want to be great, it’s hard for them to keep climbing and keep accelerating their development. That’s point number one that we’re excited about.”
Former New York Jets quarterback David Garrard went on The Herd with Colin Cowherd Thursday to discuss his retirement. Garrard was competing for New York’s starting job but said his knee injury wasn’t going to get better.

"It was swelling on me and it was sore," Garrard said. “I wasn’t able to continue out there with the team.”

Garrard said the practices weren’t rigorous at this point and his knee was having trouble. So he “couldn’t imagine” trying to make it through training camp and the rest of the year with his balky knee. Garrard also provided some insight into the Jets' locker room and the other quarterbacks.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

If there was any doubt about the immediate future of quarterback Mark Sanchez with the New York Jets, all questions should have been answered Wednesday.

Sanchez and his $8.25 million guaranteed salary will remain in New York through the entire 2013 season. Veteran quarterback David Garrard’s decision to walk away from the Jets due to a balky knee sealed any possibility of New York releasing Sanchez. New York’s quarterback competition has been reduced to four quarterbacks. But in reality, there are only two legitimate options: Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith.

There was some debate of whether Sanchez would last in New York. The Jets would like to get rid of his huge salary but didn’t want to take the enormous cap hit. However, Garrard had an opportunity to beat out Sanchez and provide the veteran leadership needed in New York's quarterback room.

But post-Garrard, the Jets definitely need Sanchez now. He’s the only Jets quarterback with extensive experience. Sanchez is a four-year starter who has won playoff games and advanced to the AFC title game in back-to-back years following the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Smith, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms have one career start among them.

Garrard, 35, would have served as a good person for New York’s young quarterbacks to lean on. He also has playoff experience and spent most of his career in a West Coast offense, which gave him an advantage under new Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. But a balky knee makes it all a moot point at this stage.

It's going to be either Sanchez or Smith under center in Week 1 for the Jets when they host Darrelle Revis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But perhaps the biggest winner is McElroy or Simms, who now have a chance to latch on as New York's third quarterback.

Eight in the Box: Key offseasons

May, 10, 2013
5/10/13
12:00
PM ET
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a key player from each AFC East team who needs to show something in offseason sessions:

New York Jets: Perhaps no AFC East player has a brighter spotlight on him this offseason than embattled Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Quarterback competitions are always interesting, but quarterback competitions in New York are taken to another level. Sanchez is in a five-way battle with fellow veteran David Garrard, highly touted rookie Geno Smith and backups Greg McElroy and Matt Simms. Sanchez is the incumbent looking to keep his job, which he’s had for four seasons. But Sanchez led the NFL in turnovers the past two seasons, which contributed to back-to-back non-winning seasons in New York. The Jets have treated Sanchez with kid gloves for a majority of his career and have not brought in legit competition before. But first-year general manager John Idzik did not draft Sanchez and has no ties to the 2009 first-round pick. The quarterback derby is wide open. Whoever can learn new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast system faster this offseason will have the inside track in training camp.

Buffalo Bills: Veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb is in a similar spot to Sanchez. Signed as a free agent, he has a chance to win the starting job but must compete with rookie first-round pick EJ Manuel and veteran Tarvaris Jackson. Kolb has had a lot of ups and downs in stops with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. He will get his third opportunity to lead a team, this time under first-year head coach Doug Marrone. The competition is hard to predict. Kolb might be a slight favorite to win Buffalo’s starting job in Week 1 because of his experience. But if Kolb is beaten out by a rookie (Manuel) or a journeyman (Jackson) in training camp, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Bills cut ties with Kolb. A majority of Kolb’s two-year, $13 million contract is incentive based and not guaranteed.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have put veteran cornerback Dimitri Patterson on the hot seat via the draft. Miami drafted two cornerbacks -- Jamar Taylor and Will Davis -- in the second and third rounds, respectively. The rookies will make the 53-man roster, but Patterson’s spot is not guaranteed. The former Cleveland Browns cornerback joined the Dolphins as a late-season waiver claim. Patterson didn’t get to show much in his two games with Miami last season and must really impress the coaching staff this offseason. Otherwise, the Dolphins could release Patterson and save on his $4.6 million salary. Agreeing to take a pay cut also would be an option for Patterson.

New England Patriots: New Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount was added this offseason to a crowded backfield. He was acquired in a draft-day trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a seventh-round pick and track standout Jeff Demps. Blount joins tailbacks Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and return specialist Leon Washington. Blount could add power and a short-yardage threat to New England's offense, which needs both those things. But Blount fell out of favor in Tampa and has had issues in the past. The Patriots took a chance to see whether Blount could turn around his career. But New England also is never afraid to cut players who do not fit.

The lines are drawn with the New York Jets after the team opened a five-way quarterback competition this offseason involving Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy, Matt Simms and rookie Geno Smith. The Jets returned to work this week after New York invested a high second-round pick on Smith, whom many feel is the No. 1 quarterback in this year's draft.

With all that said, Sanchez remains the favorite because he is the incumbent. Sanchez ended last season as the starter and the job will have to be taken away from him this summer. Sanchez also is a favorite of Jets coach Rex Ryan, who remained loyal -- sometimes to a fault -- to Sanchez over the years. But Ryan's loyalty is no longer enough for the fifth-year quarterback.

These are different times under Jets first-year general manager John Idzik. Sanchez must produce consistently on the practice field and in preseason games to convince the Jets that he’s the best quarterback on the roster.

Sanchez has played well at times (back-to-back AFC title games) and poorly for long stretches (most of 2012 season). One of the biggest difference-makers for Sanchez is his confidence. That is why it’s encouraging Thursday when Sanchez said he has "no doubt" he is New York’s No. 1 quarterback. Sanchez is confidently embracing this competition, not shying away from it.

"There's a little fire going and that's good," said Sanchez, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. "I'm cool with that. I think it's good for everybody."

The only way Sanchez keeps his job is if he gets back to the "Sanchize" swagger from New York’s playoff seasons in 2009 and 2010. The past two years Sanchez looked mostly confused and defeated. He is most recently known for last season's "butt fumble" play on Thanksgiving against the New England Patriots.

One of the biggest criticism of the Jets and former general manager Mike Tannenbaum is they never provided legit competition for Sanchez. Backups like Mark Brunell, McElroy and Tim Tebow never had the chance to unseat Sanchez, who perhaps got too comfortable in New York’s offense. But Idzik has no connection to Sanchez and is bringing in as much competition as possible. Sanchez must beat out four players simultaneously for the first time in his career.

"Whether it's Simms, McElroy, David or Geno, all those guys want to play, and that’s natural for a quarterback to want to play," Sanchez told reporters. "It's different than a guard, tackle, receiver, defensive tackle, because there’s only one. So we’re competing for one spot. We’re friendly about it. But at the same time it’s a fierce competition. ... The best guy will play."

Sanchez has the inside track despite past struggles. But Sanchez must change his mentality in 2013 from the previously entitled quarterback to a hungry and confident quarterback. And it appears Sanchez is heading in that direction based on his early comments.

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