Geno Smith Gives the New York Jets the Best Chance to Win

John Shea@real_johnsheaContributor IIIJune 24, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Geno Smith of West Virginia throws during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Mark Sanchez has reportedly looked better than rookie quarterback Geno Smith in New York Jets OTAs and mini-camp, but he doesn't give the team the best chance of winning this season.

The Jets don't necessarily consider Smith to be a "franchise player," although it's arguable that he already has a skill set better apt to helping the team win more games in 2013 than Sanchez ever could.

Smith is a dynamic playmaker who excelled in a spread offense at the collegiate level. His style of play is heavily contingent on surrounding playmakers, though, of which the Jets have few.

Sanchez strongly suffered during the previous two seasons from a lack of consistent playmaking ability on the part of his running backs and wide receivers. But, he also forced countless throws into traffic, and was seldom able to actually hang onto the football after being blindsided by pass rushers.

The No. 1 advantage that Smith holds over Sanchez as training camp steadily approaches is his seeming ability to elude would-be tacklers and gain positive yardage downfield on the strength of speed.

However, Smith averaged only 1.4 yards in 245 tries in four competitive FBS seasons.

Still, Sanchez doesn't have remote pocket-escape ability, nor the awareness to get rid of the football in pocket-collapsing situations. Sanchez too often panics when pressure ensues and frequently fails to react in time when a play quickly develops downfield.

He doesn't take advantage of critical opportunities for big gains and too often creates mistakes. His timing is suspect and arguably the worst among starting QBs in the NFL.

If Smith can prove he's able to consistently avoid turnovers while also capitalizing on big-play opportunities, he'll claim the Jets' title of starting quarterback.

Sanchez has failed to sustain an effective level of efficiency while simultaneously turning the ball over at a catastrophic level. He's thrown 36 interceptions over the course of the past two seasons. He's also lost 16 fumbles.

He's committed 52 turnovers in total over his last 31 games started, a figure of which is highly unmatched.

It's hard to believe that Smith could succumb to numbers that parallel the disgusting turnover-mark that Sanchez breaches each season, but the comparison level is null at the professional level.

Smith connected on 71.2 percent of his pass attempts in his senior season at West Virginia. He was scrutinized before the draft for delivering countless short passes on screens and slants, which largely aided his tally of 9.2 yards per attempt.

He was the ultimate beneficiary of a high-octane offense that featured speed wideouts Steadman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

The Jets don't have that kind of speed. But, Smith should be more successful than Sanchez if he can consistently connect on short passing routes, as he did in the Big East.

Smith was enormously comfortable from the shotgun at West Virginia. He likely won't have that luxury in new OC Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense but should excel from a game scheme that's consumed by a down-and-distance formula.

Sanchez has presumably played more efficiently than Smith early in the offseason because of his supposed ability to adapt to the new offense.

There's a distinct problem in that assessment, though.

Sanchez has neither improved as a player, nor displayed consistent ability to avoid turnovers. The counter argument would state that the Jets' predisposed "starting quarterback" hasn't further devastated his chances of reclaiming the team's title of main signal caller.

That will change in training camp and during preseason action.

Sanchez has certainly made big plays in his career, but he's changed since moments like his virtual game-winning strike to Braylon Edwards on the road against the Colts in the playoffs in a 2011 AFC Wild Card Game.

Sanchez is no longer a confident football player.

The Jets' supposed "quarterback battle" hits training camp in Cortland next month. It's Sanchez's last chance to prove himself worthy of starting status in the NFL, while a wanna-be phenomenon awaits his opportunity to rise up.

It's not just about "who wants it more." This isn't a cliche contest between a couple of mediocre veterans.

This is going to be an old-school positional battle between two players who will be honestly graded on ability, and whether rookie QB Geno Smith can sustain dynamic athleticism that Sanchez simply won't be able to match.