This isn't about who should start under center for the New York Jets this season.
This is about setting your team up mentally.
In that regard, Jets head coach Rex Ryan made the right decision by choosing to start veteran Mark Sanchez over rookie Geno Smith in the Jets' preseason opener against the Detroit Lions on Friday at Ford Field, per Chris Burke of SI.com.
Ryan would also make the right decision by choosing to start Smith over Sanchez in the Jets' preseason home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 17.
By starting Sanchez in the Jets' preseason opener versus Detroit, it does two things.
One, it instills confidence in the embattled signal-caller while easing the drama circulating around New York's quarterback competition this offseason.
Two, it keeps a rookie in Smith away from the lions...at least for now. The lions I am referring to are Detroit Lions Ndamukong Suh and Ziggy Ansah, who will look to feast on quarterbacks this season. Suh had eight sacks in 2012. Ansah, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, has been compared to New York Giants defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck in terms of his overwhelming athleticism and strength.
On the flip side, starting Smith over Sanchez versus the Jaguars in the Jets' preseason home opener also does two things.
One, it allows him to gradually ease his way into the league against a pass rush that collected an NFL-low 20 sacks last season.
Two, it keeps Sanchez away from the boo birds, who are sure to make their voices heard at MetLife Stadium.
You know, the same boo birds who were so prevalent in the Jets' scrimmage on Saturday that they forced cornerback Antonio Cromartie to come to Sanchez's defense, calling the response "bull crap," according to Manish Menta of the New York Daily News.
Sanchez added, per the report:
“You heard what Cromartie said. Cromartie was pissed. Cromartie’s like, ‘What are you talking about? You’re going to come here and boo? For what? Then don’t come.’ A lot of guys feel like that."
It hasn't helped that Sanchez hasn't looked like a much-improved version of the quarterback who has thrown a combined 36 interceptions and lost a combined six fumbles in the past two years (including the notorious "butt fumble" against the New England Patriots last season).
Sanchez went 6-of-11 while stumbling and getting sacked in the process during Saturday's scrimmage, per Burke's report.
Right now, the Jets need as little drama as possible. That's why starting Smith over Sanchez at MetLife Stadium would be a good idea. If Sanchez ends up starting in the regular season, there is no controlling the backlash at that point, but the Jets can at least do themselves a favor by minimizing the negativity in the preseason as they look to improve upon a 6-10 record from 2012.
If Ryan starts Sanchez against the Lions, then starts Smith against the Jaguars, there would appear to be a method to his madness.
If he starts Sanchez in both games, however, nothing good can come out of it.