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Mark Sanchez insists he beat out Geno Smith for starting quarterback job

Mark SanchezMark Sanchez believes the one and only reason he is not the starting quarterback of the New York Jets right now is that he injured his shoulder. Prior to the controversial injury, which Sanchez suffered when Ryan put him on the field in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game, it was still unclear if Sanchez or Geno Smith would be the team’s starter come Week 1.

The belief is that New York’s front office has been itching to turn the reins over to Smith, but the decision became complicated when the rookie threw three interceptions in the fourth preseason game. Apparently that poor performance was enough to make Sanchez feel he had the job locked down.

That’s debatable, to say the least. During his his hilarious press conference after Sanchez suffered the shoulder injury, Rex Ryan said he would not have put Sanchez in the game if it was not “important.” If Sanchez is so confident he had already won the starting job, why was the fourth quarter of the final preseason game important?

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Geno Smith throws three interceptions in preseason game

Geno Smith JetsThe New York Jets wanted rookie Geno Smith to win the starting quarterback, but the West Virginia product has done his best to squander that opportunity.

Smith threw three interceptions in one half of the team’s third preseason game, which is often viewed as the most important preseason contest. He got the opportunity to start and played poorly. Here’s how his drives went:

    - 3 and out
    - Touchdown
    - 3 and out
    - Interception on first play of drive
    - Interception on 5th play of drive
    - Punt (gained one first down)
    - Interception on fourth play of drive

Smith forced throws into traffic, and he didn’t recognize when to throw the ball away when under pressure (a situation that led to his second interception). His first-half stats were 10-of-23 for 123 yards, one touchdown, and the three picks. The lord must have shined down brightly on Mark Sanchez, who will keep the starting job by default.

Ready for a stat that will blow you away? Smith’s three interceptions in one half are as many as he had through his first nine games with West Virginia last season (he finished with six total).

Geno Smith lights it up with first team at New York Jets practice

Geno Smith JetsNew York Jets quarterback Geno Smith may be on his way to winning the starting job over Mark Sanchez. On Wednesday, Smith worked with the Jets’ first-team offense for the third straight day. As Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News pointed out, the Jets had previously been sticking to a two-day rotation with Smith and Sanchez.

Smith was up to the challenge. At one point during practice on Wednesday, he was 10-for-10 and various Jets beat writers were commenting on how sharp he looked. Mehta later pointed out that Smith was 15-for-16, had thrown for two touchdowns and no interceptions, and was “having his way” with New York’s defense in the hurry-up offense.

Earlier this month, a report indicated that Smith is likely to earn the starting quarterback job as long as he looks sharp in preseason play. He then suffered an ankle injury which many speculated could slow his progress, but that doesn’t sound like it has been the case. Sanchez has already thrown a pick six during one preseason game and an end-zone interception in the other, so he certainly isn’t turning heads.

Rex Ryan has shown unconditional support for Sanchez over the past few years. He even has a tattoo of his wife wearing what appears to be a Sanchez jersey. But the Jets need more consistency on offense this season, and Sanchez has proven over the past two years that he is not capable of providing it. If nothing else, Smith should be able to energize New York’s offense.

Ryan is taking a bigger role in the team’s defense this year, and he said on Tuesday that he expects the unit to be among the five best in the NFL in 2013. That will be no easy task without players like Darrelle Revis and Bart Scott, but Rex has the creativity to pull it off. The question now is whether he will continue to allow Sanchez to put his defense in a position to fail.

Rex Ryan defends Geno Smith: ‘I’m glad my kid didn’t go to West Virginia’

Geno SmithNew York Jets head coach Rex Ryan came to the defense of rookie quarterback Geno Smith on Monday, and he took a shot at West Virginia in the process. A number of players who were teammates with Smith at West Virginia last season were quoted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review as saying the team lacked leadership. Smith was not mentioned by name, but he was the Mountaineers’ quarterback.

“Last year we didn’t have, you know, a lot of leadership,” junior running back Dustin Garrison said.

Several other players said they felt the Mountaineers were not a team last season, but more about individuals. When asked if the report makes him question Smith’s leadership ability, Ryan immediately defended the rookie.

“No, but it tells me I’m glad my kid never went there. Tell you that much,” Rex said, via Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News. “I don’t get that. Geno was a tremendous player for West Virginia. Sometimes, I don’t know, you have to ask them. I certainly don’t get that. When somebody leaves your deal, I guess that’s up to them, you’d have to ask them.”

West Virginia looked like one of the best teams in the country last year after the first six weeks of the season, but they quickly fell apart and capped things off with an embarrassing loss to Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Smith fell off a bit, but for the most part defense was the issue. There was very little Geno could have done about a 55-34 loss to Oklahoma State or a 50-49 loss to Oklahoma.

We don’t know if Smith lacked leadership skills, but we do know it’s easy for a team to blame a player who has moved on even if their struggles weren’t his fault. My guess is that’s what is going on at West Virginia.

Geno Smith likely to win Jets starting quarterback job

Geno Smith JetsThe New York Jets did not select Geno Smith in the early part of the second round of the NFL draft with the intention of having him sit on their bench all season. The expectation was that the former West Virginia quarterback would take some time to learn the offense before being ready to start.

Entering camp, many believed Mark Sanchez would open the season as the team’s starter and hold the position for about a month before Smith took over. It looks like Smith is going to take the job a lot sooner than that.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported over the weekend that Smith looked sharp in a scrimmage. Mehta also says Smith will be the starter for the team’s opener so long as he looks sharp in the preseason.

Brian Costello of the New York Post agrees. Costello says Smith is “stealing the spotlight” in camp and “making very few mistakes.” Costello says that if Smith plays well in the first two preseason games, the starting job is likely his.

Through seven practices and a scrimmage, Smith reportedly has completed 39-of-68 passes (57.4 percent) and thrown for three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has taken 12 sacks. Sanchez is 46-of-82 (56.1 percent) with three touchdowns, four interceptions, and eight sacks taken.

As we’ve said for a while, it won’t take much for Smith to beat out Sanchez for the job. The Jets already know what they’re getting with Sanchez. They need to know what Smith can do.

Geno Smith on winning New York Jets starting job: ‘I feel like I have a great shot’

Geno-Smith-JetsThe quarterback competition between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith is the most interesting storyline to follow from New York Jets training camp this summer. Most reporters have used words like “uninspiring” to describe Smith’s performance during practice since the Jets drafted him, and multiple reports have indicated Sanchez should be the starter come Week 1.

Smith has yet to give up hope.

“I feel like I have a great shot,” Smith told The Charleston Gazette over the weekend. “I did a pretty good job overall of just adapting to the system and playbook and felt very comfortable with it by the end of OTAs and mandatory [mini-] camp [in May and June].”

With the way Sanchez has played over the past two seasons, one would think Smith would have to do very little to beat him out. However, Rex Ryan has shown unconditional support for Sanchez over the years. Couple that with rumors about the Jets considering using Smith as a change-of-pace quarterback and it would be tough to imagine Sanchez not being under center for the first game of the season.

“Going into training camp I’ve got a great opportunity and feel very good about it,” Smith said. “I’m going to go in there with the right mentality, the same mentality I had throughout my entire career, which is to work hard, to better myself and help my teammates get better and we’ll see what happens at the end of preseason.”

What else can he say? There’s a reason Geno decided not to participate in Sanchez’s annual team camp in California. He expects to be the future quarterback of the Jets, and he wants that to start in 2013. There’s a good chance he will get a chance to prove himself, but it probably won’t come in Week 1. If Sanchez continues to stink, Geno’s shot will come sooner rather than later.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Geno Smith on missing Jets West camp: Me and Mark Sanchez are cool

Geno-Smith-JetsGeno Smith raised a few eyebrows last week when he was a no-show for Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West” camp. Sanchez’s camp has become an annual tradition with the New York Jets and a time where the team can work on bonding, conditioning and other forms of practice.

As LB mentioned before, Smith probably chose not to attend because he is trying to beat Sanchez out for the starting quarterback position. Whatever the reason, the rookie said his decision to skip has not created any problems between him and Sanchez.

“Me and Mark are cool. No hard feelings or anything,” Smith said in an interview with OCNN, via the NY Daily News. “He’s up there getting work with the guys, I’m down here getting work.”

Sanchez basically said the same last week, but that hasn’t stopped the media from jumping to conclusions.

“I think it’s just something to talk about,” Smith said. “Right now it’s a dead period, so any type of hype, anything that they can get their hands on, some type of controversy. The media, they’re just doing their job. They got to create a hot story, they gotta keep the fans interested.”

That’s a pretty fair assessment. Jets stories tend to be a go-to for media outlets (us included) during the NFL offseason, mainly because they have a lot of stupid ideas and say a lot of stupid things. If Smith plans to have a successful career in New York, he might as well get used to it now.

H/T Twitter/Mansh Mehta