By Ryan Alfieri, Editor
I know, I know. You’re sick and tired of seeing number 6 trot out for the green and white on Sunday afternoons. After leading the league in turnovers on the way to the ugliest six-win season in NFL history, Jets fans are all but chomping at the bit to get a new quarterback in place and hit the restart button.
Still, as tempting as it may be to try out the new toy in Geno Smith, the Jets are better off holding off on the “Geno Project” for the time being.
Rewind back to four years ago, when the Jets were in a similar position they were now. After a turbulent disappointing 9-7 season that got their head coach fired, the Jets were re-starting with a new coach and a new quarterback.
Following the Ravens model from 2008 in which they were one game away from reaching the AFC Championship game, Rex Ryan named Mark Sanchez the starter.
Looking back, it ranks as one of the worst decisions he ever made as head coach – and he shouldn’t make it again.
Sanchez, like Geno Smith, was not an elite prospect coming out of USC. A one-year starter, Sanchez was a benefactor of a weak quarterback class (and a weak draft overall) and was thrust to the top of draft boards. In fact, Geno and Sanchez are not much different as prospects; they both struggle throwing to the sideline and have problems holding on to the football.
Geno has a lot of tools to work with, but as his inconsistent second half of 2012 showed, he needs time to clean up his game. Otherwise, he could be ruined before he had a chance to start, especially in an environment like New York.
Not only would this benefit Geno Smith in the long-term, but it would give Sanchez a chance to prove, one last time, that he can be a valuable commodity in this league. If Sanchez even has mild success – and he might under a good scheme fit with Marty Mornhinweg – the Jets could turn Sanchez into a valuable trade commodity.
On the other hand, if Sanchez stumbles, there is no risk. If he fails, the Jets will have their window to insert Geno, and the Sanchez era will officially be over in New York. If he plays well enough to win, so be it – the Jets are in no hurry to force a second-round pick into action if they’re winning.
If Rex Ryan does start Sanchez, it would be a huge gamble in terms of his job security and will be seen as a huge indictment on Geno Smith. However, as unpopular as it may be, the Jets would be better off holding off on the Smith era until they are certain that the is a far superior player than Sanchez right now.