Camp Preview: Quarterbacks
July, 15, 2013
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com
AP Photo/Bill KostrounGeno Smith is right behind Mark Sanchez for this year's starting quarterback job.Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:
Projected starter: Mark Sanchez
Projected reserves: Geno Smith, Greg McElroy
New faces: Smith
The departed: Tim Tebow
Player to Watch: The most scrutinized player in camp will be Smith, the former West Virginia star who slid into the second round. It'll be Smith versus Sanchez in the Jets' first true quarterback competition since Sanchez versus Kellen Clemens in 2009 -- and that was rigged in Sanchez's favor. This time, the politics will work against Sanchez. It's Smith's job to win. The organization wants a fresh face at quarterback, but Smith has a lot to prove after a lackluster performance in the OTAs and minicamp. He has the arm and the athleticism to electrify the offense, but can he lead? Can he grasp the offense? Can he handle adversity? Chances are, he won't be able to answer them all by opening day. Bet the rent on Sanchez starting Week 1.
Potential Strength: The best hope for a solid season at quarterback -- maybe the only hope -- is Marty Mornhinweg and his West Coast system. He's an experienced playcaller with a proven, quarterback-friendly system, a departure from Tony Sparano and his paint-by-numbers offense. Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach David Lee, a stickler for fundamentals, will bring a fresh approach.
Potential Weakness: Ball security. Sanchez, who drives coaches crazy with his penchant for holding the ball with only one hand, fumbled 14 times last season (he lost eight). He also had 18 interceptions. Smith has small hands and fumbled 32 times in his college career. The Jets aren't good enough to overcome reckless play at the quarterback position.
Wild card: The coaches are toying with the idea of turning Smith into what Tebow was supposed to be last season -- a change-of-pace quarterback (assuming he doesn't win the starting job). Smith would have a package of plays, mainly read-option runs that could exploit his speed. The upside: It would give him some game experience, albeit in a gadget role, and add a wrinkle to the offense. The downside: He wasn't very productive when West Virginia called designed runs, which wasn't often. Smith, who considers himself a pocket passer, gives the impression he wouldn't be thrilled in that role.