By Joe Giglio
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All signs out of Florham Park point to Geno Smith having the golden opportunity to knock Mark Sanchez out of the Jets quarterback derby on Saturday night against the New York Giants in the MetLife Bowl.
If the rookie from West Virginia plays exceptionally well, though, not having to play as well as Phil Simms in the Super Bowl, according to his head coach, the second round pick will likely take the ball in Week 1 against Tampa.
On the other hand, if he turns the ball over or plays an average first half, the competition either will extend into the fourth week of the preseason, or Sanchez will be afforded a fifth straight opening week start of his NFL career.
The idea of a quarterback competition in Florham Park isn’t wrong. In fact, considering how well the competition between Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn worked in Seattle last year, with Jets general manager John Idzik part of the Seattle front office at that time, both Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez will become better quarterbacks due to competition.
While Saturday night should big a major measuring stick in deciding a winner between Smith and Sanchez, it shouldn’t be the biggest and starkest line of demarcation here.
Shouldn’t the competition be comprehensive, factoring in every drop back, decision, pass and system learning curve from the moment camp opened through the end of play on Saturday night?
When Rex Ryan talked about Geno’s potential performance earlier in the week, he spoke about a turnover free performance. Thus, are we to believe that Geno wins the job if an obvious interception is dropped by a Giants defender? Or, on the flip side, Sanchez will start in Week 1 if a perfect pass is dropped by, say, Clyde Gates, into the hands of a Giants defensive back?
Putting a major emphasis on this game should be the objective, but it’s only one step in the evaluation process.
Clearly, Mark Sanchez hasn’t done enough to be named the starter yet. The flow of the game tomorrow night, including penalties, offensive line play and time of possession in the first half, may not allow Geno Smith to either.
If Smith feels the first half tomorrow night is his last and final chance to make a statement in this race, unnecessary chances could be taken. His progressions, reads and decision making process, which should be improving at a natural pace, shouldn’t be sped up in the name of changing his entire camp and preseason story in two or three quarters of football on Saturday night.
If Geno Smith is the best quarterback on the Jets roster right now, he should start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 8.
His status atop the depth chart, or Mark Sanchez’s hold on the job for that matter, should be a total, comprehensive look at everything involved with the Jets franchise since offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach David Lee installed the offense, not just a few plays in a preseason game.
The third game of the preseason should factor in heavily, but not supercede everything else.
If the Jets make a decision based on one half of football, the state of the 2013 season is in worse shape than so many originally thought.
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