The Jets had finally found out who their quarterback was.
After a long, drawn out competition throughout training camp and the preseason, Geno Smith had finally fallen behind Mark Sanchez Saturday night against the Giants, letting the incumbent maintain control of the Jets job for now.
And then Rex Ryan threw everything into flux, including, quite possibly, his job.
Possibly spurred by a Geno Smith safety the previous possession, with 11:21 left in the 4th and the backups in the game, Ryan sent out Sanchez.
It would end one drive later with Sanchez writhing in pain on the MetLife Stadium turf injured. The second-guessing would only start.
According to ESPN.com, Sanchez never thought he would come into the game. It seemed as if 4th stringer Matt Simms would get the call, but Sanchez was rushed from the bench and sent in to play.
Sanchez was hit hard (including a sack) before the eventual injury. Somehow the Jets failed to realize the magnitude of the lose-lose situation and get him out of there.
After the game, Ryan had no answers to the obvious question, “Why was Sanchez brought into the game?” It led to an awkward press conference with reporters who continued to badger him for information.
Like other weeks, the Jets still cannot name a starting QB. Unlike other weeks, it has nothing to do with competition anymore. A debacle reigned supreme in East Rutherford.
What were the positives for putting Sanchez out there? The much ballyhooed minimums that Smith had to reach to become starter were completely missed. They had to know Sanchez was going to be the starter.
Starters do not belong out on the field in the 4th quarter of the preseason, let alone with guys who may not even make NFL rosters protecting him.
Rex Ryan saying he just wanted to win the game was a foolhardy excuse that he must have a hard time believing. The fourth is a time for those trying to make an impression, not a time to allow your opponent to make an impression on your QB’s body.
Depending on Sanchez’s availability, this could spell the end for Rex. Is it a damning mistake he made? Not necessarily. But for a coach trying to save his job this season, it is. He may have done something to eliminate his best option at quarterback. Whether it was all Ryan’s idea to play what quarterback when or not, he is the face of the Jets and any disaster with playing time will fall on him.
The Jets have spent an entire off-season trying to build up their 2nd round pick to be their starter. Because of half-measures and money issues, the Jets kept Sanchez on their roster, despite GM John Idzik’s desire to never see him be the quarterback again. A smoke and mirrors fight to the finish commenced this preseason and this has been the unsatisfactory result.
Most QB competitions do not end with the loser of it becoming the starter. After Geno Smith threw 3 interceptions and fell to a safety, it was obvious to all who the starter would be.
Perhaps not obvious enough for the Jets.