David Garrard may shock the NFL world and win the starting job in New York.
With Tebowmania out the door via a swift kick, incumbent starter Mark Sanchez is now set to do battle with the savvy veteran David Garrard and the promising youngster with a chip on his shoulder in Geno Smith.
Conventional wisdom says it's a two-man race between Sanchez and Smith. After all, Sanchez is familiar with the pieces in place and could have one more year to prove his worth with a new offensive coordinator in town in Marty Mornhinweg.
If Sanchez fails to show improvement with additional competition (sound familiar?), then the versatile Smith may be the way to go if he has a quality preseason.
Not many are considering Garrard a serious threat for the starting job, but they should.
Mark Sanchez Had His Chance
Yes, Sanchez is the man who led the Jets to two AFC Championship games in a row and has thrown nine touchdowns to three interceptions with a 4-2 record all time in the playoffs.
Right now, that doesn't mean much of anything.
Sanchez came back down to Earth last season with the rest of the roster while New York butt-fumbled its way to a 6-10 record.
After four seasons of never completing more than 57 percent of his passes, it is clear Sanchez is not the type of quarterback who elevates the play of those around him. He's a game manager in the utmost sense who allows mental mistakes to snowball when given full responsibility of the offense.
We've seen what Sanchez brings to the table as a quarterback, and he has had more time than most quarterbacks get to prove their worth.
A change to the West Coast offense under Mornhinweg may mean nothing for Sanchez with the same talent still in place.
One of Sanchez's favorite targets in tight end Dustin Keller is gone. His replacement is Jeff Cumberland, a man with 32 career receptions to his name. Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens and Stephen Hill aren't the most frightening trio of receivers.
Out of the receivers listed above, Hill has the potential to develop into something special at this point. He's still a very raw prospect and has a long way to go after dropping six passes in his rookie campaign.
One of Sanchez's other favorite targets is Santonio Holmes, who had to restructure his deal this offseason just to stay with the team, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Jets WR Santonio Holmes' has agreed to a restructured contract and will remain with the team for the 2013 season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2013
Holmes may not be the same player post-injury and at 29 years of age. This means he could very well end up being a candidate for release as the preseason rolls along.
It's clear the Jets are still rebuilding and Sanchez still needs development, which is ridiculous at this point in his career. He could benefit greatly from riding the pine and learning for a season since the franchise robbed him of that opportunity when he first entered the league.
Geno Smith Simply Isn't Ready
Not many were shocked when Smith fell out of the first round of the 2013 NFL draft and was picked by New York at No. 39 overall.
Well, Smith was shocked, but that's to be expected.
Smith fell because he has a lot to learn about playing the quarterback position. He put up gaudy statistics in a pass-happy offense littered with elite talent such as Tavon Austin at West Virginia, but that means next to nothing at the professional level.
According to Bleacher Report's Sigmund Bloom, there are several areas Smith is lacking when it comes to simply fundamentals:
Smith's footwork is beyond inconsistent. He needs to tighten up his mechanics to iron out issues that result in him missing throws that he should be able to make. He doesn't have a great deep arm, and sometimes, his throws to the sidelines have too much air under them.
When Smith misses, he misses high, which results in bad things in the pros. Smith faded at the end of his senior season, reverted to bad habits, and came up small against the toughest defenses he faced.
That's not even touching on his reported inability or unwillingness to learn, which he'll have to do a lot of with Mornhinweg while surrounded by less talent than he's accustomed. According to anonymous sources via Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole, Smith has a long way to go in this regard:
His biggest problem is that he doesn't know what he doesn't know. ... I'm not sure he knows how to take instruction because he pretty much wouldn't listen or talk to our coaches. … He's talented. He can sling it, he can fit it into tight spots, he can do a lot of things and I think he wants to be good. But you can't tell him anything right now. He's tuned out because he thinks he's got it all down.
All these other players who were in there were talking to the coaches, trying to get to know people and he was over there by himself...That's not what you want out of your quarterback.
Whether you believe the anonymous reports or not, it certainly makes some sense as to why he dropped so far in the draft when paired with his lack of fundamentals in some areas.
Like Sanchez, it appears Smith could benefit greatly from sitting on the bench for at least one season and learning the intricacies of Mornhinweg's offense before taking over or seriously competing for the job next season.
David Garrard Presents a Chance to Compete and Tutor
At the end of the day, an NFL coaching staff's main job is to pick the guy who will win the team the most games.
In New York, that very well may be Garrard, courtesy of his experience.
That's exactly what one anonymous NFL executive told NFL Network's Kimberly Jones:
In other words re:NYJ - Sanchez, Geno Smith & David Garrard will battle. 1 rival exec just predicted if DG stays healthy, he's Wk 1 starter.— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) May 7, 2013
Sure, Garrard is 35 years old and had his shot with the Miami Dolphins last year ruined thanks to a knee injury, but he obviously checks out medically now given the Jets' willingness to sign him to a one-year, $1.1 million contact (per Rotoworld).
In his last season as a starter with the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2010 before being derailed with back and other injury issues, Garrard completed 64.5 percent of his passes and tossed 23 touchdowns to 15 interceptions.
Even better, Garrard has experience in offenses similar to the one the Jets are implementing. This knowledge combined with the veteran presence to not get rattled under the New York spotlight and cough the ball up make him an ideal candidate to start and at the very least make the Jets competitive in 2013.
Who do you think should start for the Jets in 2013?
The proper term for Garrard would be a stop-gap solution, and that's just fine. While Garrard is guiding the franchise in 2013, he can act as a mentor to both Sanchez and Smith. Even if one or the other eventually replaces Garrard during the season, they'll be better off than if they had just been thrown to the wolves at the start.
Either way, there is a massive quarterback battle set to begin in New York. You have the man who was rushed out the door and paid the ultimate price in Sanchez, and a prospect who should be praying he isn't handled the same way in Smith.
Then you have Garrard, who has plenty to teach both while guiding the franchise through a bit of a rebuilding phase.
As if you weren't going to already, keep a close eye on the Jets this preseason. The decisions the coaching staff makes as it pertains to the quarterback situation could have implications for years.
Follow me on Twitter for more NFL news and analysis @Chris_Roling.