According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, some believe Sanchez will be released prior to the season after the edition of Geno Smith in the second round of the draft, effectively easing the pressure of having four quarterbacks under contract.
Should Sanchez be handed his walking papers this offseason, the door will be wide open for Smith to take the reins of an offense in desperate need of some direction. David Garrard is a strong veteran presence to facilitate the transition, but he is by no means a long-term option.
The only major uncertainty is what the Jets will decide to do with Tim Tebow. The polarizing signal-caller has long been rumored to be targeted for trade or release this offseason, but according to Schefter’s report, Tebow may be gaining favor within the organization.
But even with so much uncertainty facing New York in 2013, the addition of Smith is certainly a hopeful sign. Many expected the West Virginia product to be out of reach for the Jets—even at No. 9 in the first round.
That Smith fell so far was certainly a surprise, but sliding into the second round doesn’t mean he isn’t talented enough to play quarterback in the NFL. He has the physical tools to be an immediate impact player under center in New York.
There’s little chance Tebow is handed the starting role, and if Sanchez is left to find a new home prior to the season, Smith won’t have to do all that much to obtain the position.
But How Will it Work?
It’s hard to predict what the Jets’ offense will look like this season, due in large part to injuries that hampered Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller last year. Keller left in free agency, but both Holmes and Hill should be healthy and ready to make an impact this season.
Even so, New York’s offense was hardly distinguishable in 2012, and Smith should hope for more stability if he is to produce at a high level in 2013.
John Idzik hasn’t done much to give Smith more to work with through three rounds of the draft, but he did select Kent State guard Brian Winters with the 72nd pick, and there’s a good chance he focuses more on the offensive side of the ball with the West Virginia signal-caller now locked up. The next four rounds could hold several New York additions on the offensive side of the ball.
As it stands, Smith should benefit from an adequate offensive line in 2013, but Idzik can’t afford to neglect the tight end and wide receiver positions going forward.
On the Bright Side
Every young quarterback can benefit from a strong running game. Fortunately for Smith, New York’s rushing attack was arguably its best asset in 2012.
The Jets finished 12th in the league in rushing last season, tallying 118.5 yards per game on 3.8 yards per carry. While Shonn Greene departed in free agency for the Tennessee Titans, Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory (for whom the Jets traded Friday, per ESPN) and Mike Goodson should keep the sticks moving and take some pressure off whoever is under center.
Sometimes all an offense needs is a new wrinkle it didn’t previously possess. With athleticism, mobility and the ability to move the pocket and extend plays, Smith offers a skill set that could jumpstart a once-stagnant New York offense this year.
The Jets’ defense finished No. 8 in the league last season, and Idzik continued adding young, talented players in the early rounds of the draft. Smith may not finding himself playing from behind too often this year as long as he limits his turnovers.
A sound defense and strong running game are a quarterback’s best friends, and the Jets certainly seem poised to take good care of the West Virginia product going forward.
All that said, rookie quarterbacks rarely make it through their formative years without some bumps in the road. Until the Jets add more pass-catchers and general offensive playmakers, don’t expect Smith to find himself among the elite quarterbacks in the league. Just don’t anticipate a total failure, either.
Prediction: 3,216 passing yards, 19 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions