NEW YORK (WFAN) — LaDainian Tomlinson’s final season was when it all started to fall apart for former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.

You can draw parallels between Sanchez’s regression and the current struggles of Geno Smith. The 23-year-old Smith has thrown five interceptions in his first four games this season, as did Sanchez in 2011. Smith has two lost fumbles, Sanchez had four going into Week 5.

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But Tomlinson says there’s a major difference between the two players: Smith has a cannon — and it’s too early to give up on that.

“Yes, absolutely, (Smith) turns the ball over a little bit too much for me,” Tomlinson told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Friday. “But at the same time, the talent — the arm talent that I see in Geno — he has an elite arm. And if he can start to learn how to make better decisions for this football team and not turn it over, they can be very dangerous because he can make all the throws.”

The future Hall of Fame running back, now an analyst with the NFL Network, said the Jets have a good shot to beat the Chargers in San Diego, citing head coach Rex Ryan’s defense as a potential game-changer. But the offense has to do its job, too.

Some would argue Smith should be on a short hook Sunday, especially with the AFC East still wide-open, New York at 1-3 and veteran Michael Vick ready to run the huddle if called upon.

Tomlinson isn’t one of them.

“I would not make the change,” he said. “I would try to stick it out with Geno, because here’s the thing: we know what we have with Michael Vick. We still don’t quite know what we have with Geno Smith.”

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Tomlinson thinks because Smith has a superior arm, he tries to make too much out of nothing, throwing the ball into tight spaces when Sanchez may have just chucked it away.

“Even playing with Sanchez, I was always optimistic that this would be the game — he’s gonna have 300 yards, no turnovers,” Tomlinson said. “That’s the way you have to approach it as a player. You cannot lose confidence in your quarterback if you’re out there on the field.”

“What I’m saying is, just be a little more patient with Geno,” he added. “Give him a little more time.”

Listen to the interview below for LDT’s thoughts on Ryan’s involvement on the offensive side of the ball, Big Blue’s mini-roll, the rare struggles in New England and more:

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