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Will Rex Ryan rely on Mark Sanchez (pictured) in a make-or-break season?
The Competition: Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith and Greg McElroy
To say that John Idzik is off to a slow start in his first season as the New York Jets general manager would be an understatement.
Two of his initial free-agent signings, quarterback David Garrard and running back Mike Goodson, likely won't be on the 53-man roster come opening day.
Garrard, who was going to compete for the starting quarterback job, was forced into retirement last week due to continuing issues with his knee (via The New York Times).
Meanwhile, Goodson was arrested on "drug possession and weapon charges" (via ESPN).
Looking solely at the quarterback situation, this seems to mean that three players will vie for the starting gig in training camp.
It could be a similar situation to what we saw in Seattle last season, with the team giving a young quarterback an opportunity to beat out a marginal starter.
A lot has been made about Mark Sanchez's complete lack of consistency and above-average play over the past two seasons. His completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating all declined from 2011 to 2012. This is a prime example of Sanchez regressing right in front of our eyes.
Chris Mortensen over at ESPN (h/t Rotoworld) has indicated that individuals around the National Football League believe Sanchez has "regressed as a passer since his first year."
In terms of a salary cap hit, it makes little sense for New York to release Sanchez. That being said, there is no reason he won't be on the bench in lieu of Geno Smith.
A recent report by Rich Cimini over at ESPN suggests that Smith will likely be the opening day starter:
The Jets are billing it as a fair and open competition, but is it really? Make no mistake, Smith is the preferred candidate. If he proves capable of running the offense, he'll be the Week 1 starter.
Cimini goes on to question whether that would be the best decision for a fledgling Jets franchise, and I fully understand where he is coming from.
Throwing an unproven quarterback out there with a less-than-stellar supporting cast has proven to be unsuccessful in the past. One primary example of that would be Alex Smith with the San Francisco 49ers back in 2005. Smith didn't have a decent team around him, and it led to one of the most atrocious rookie seasons in modern history.
It might just be getting to the point where New York has no other option. Will head coach Rex Ryan really stake his job on Sanchez coming through and rebounding in 2013? I highly doubt it.
Instead, he will go with the unproven quarterback.
Winner: Geno Smith