With Jets training camp just a few weeks away the quarterback competition will be front and center as incumbent Mark Sanchez will battle rookie Geno Smith in hopes of remaining the team’s starter. The Jets coaches have not tipped their hand as to whose favored heading into camp just saying they will determine a starter based upon the winner of the “open” competition.
Well a winner has already emerged and Geno Smith will be under center week one of the regular season when the Jets take the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No, the Jets have not officially announced this but given a variety of factors that will be the outcome.
The simple fact is the Jets cannot be successfully under Marty Mornhinweg’s offense with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. While the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles from 2010-2012, during 48 regular season games, the Eagles quarterbacks threw the ball 30 or more times in 40 of those contest.
Mornhinweg has brought his pass heavy system to the Jets and an offense generally runs between 60-70 plays per game. The Eagles passed the ball 62% (2012), 57% (2011) and 59% (2010). It would seem safe to say the Jets quarterback will have to attempt 30 or more passes per game more often. Mark Sanchez is 14-20 for his career when attempting 30 or more passes (.41 winning percentage) and only 5-11 (.31 winning percentage) during his last two seasons.
The argument in favor of Sanchez would be Mornhinweg throws lots of short quick passes and that he can thrive even with the increased attempts. During the 2011 season when the Jets threw the ball 57% of their offensive plays, Sanchez (career high 543 attempts) only completed two passes for more than 40 yards the entire season, but ended the year with a mediocre 56.7 completion percentage. The Brian Schottenheimer offense, much like Mornhinweg’s, was based upon short quick passes that season but Sanchez was 4-6 when asked to throw 30 or more times.
Also Sanchez is prone to getting balls batted or intercepted at the line. If Mornhinweg is going to run his system the quarterback will have to make quick throws near and around the line of scrimmage, not really Sanchez’s strength. Mornhinweg likes to keep the defenses honest by taking shots downfield so who has the better arm strength and accuracy to make these types of throws?
Maybe the team wasn’t good and that is why Sanchez struggled the past two seasons but the Jets aren’t stacked with offensive weapons this year and Mornhinweg will need the quarterback to elevate others around him. Is this Mark Sanchez, a great 20 throws per game quarterback who succeeds when asked to manage a game not win it, that guy? The Jets have never been ranked higher then 21st in passing within the league any year which Sanchez was the starter.
It is obvious that this competition is a farce and Smith, who right now is at worst even with Sanchez, will grow and produce better outcomes for the offense. After watching Sanchez continue to make rookie mistakes in games and during practices there is no reason to believe the rookie hasn’t already beaten him out.