It can’t be denied that the New York Jets are a team that lacks any type of unifying identity. After losing their best defensive weapon in Darrelle Revis and their powerhouse running back Shonn Greene to free agency, the Jets are a franchise without a reliable focal point to propel this team into the realm of competiveness. Even with the acquisition of Dee Milliner who the Jets selected with their first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the lack of a superstar veteran is cause for concern. With that in mind, the majority of the Jets chances of succeeding during the regular season will fall squarely on the shoulders of whoever wins the starting quarterback job.
While there are four quarterbacks who are technically vying for the starting position, only two are really in contention at having a shot at winning (Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith). Initially, Mark Sanchez may be given the benefit of the doubt since he has proven his abilities in the past by taking the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games. However, his performances as of late seem to indicate that his once impressive abilities are beginning to waver. Between the abysmal performances of last season to Sanchez’s most recent struggles in OTA’s, it appears that the player who was once the leading man of the Jets franchise has now succumbed to a mediocre shell of his former self.
If Mark Sanchez fails to dazzle Rex Ryan with some newly found intuitiveness then the reigns of the organization would be handed over to the rookie passer Geno Smith. Initially, it’s hard to tell if Smith is the real deal given a variety of off the field issues and his overwhelmingly positive statistical prowess that could suggest that Smith is overrated rather than a young wunderkind as a quarterback. While all of these statistics won’t regurgitated here since both parties who either love or despise Smith have already made them abundantly known, the fact of the matter is that as of now Smith is an unreliable anomaly. Arguments could be made that Smith is by far the most worthy of the starting position given his stellar touchdown to interception ratio during his senior year at West Virginia. At the same time however, Smith lacked proficiencies in throwing the deep ball and became habitually known for throwing a plethora of passes behind the line of scrimmage.
Either way, whichever quarterback is worthy to lead this team to a new and hopeful future will have to deal with some immense growing pains. Between an offense that is in complete shambles and lacks a solid veteran receiving core (Santonio Holmes being the only exception) along with a running back squad the lacks a sufficient starter, the majority of the onus of who controls the offense is unquestionably going to be at the mercy at the starting quarterbacks arm. No matter what happens, it can be assumed that this team will most likely be at the bottom of the barrel given their youthfulness while having a head coach who is more defensively minded than he is an offensive innovator. Without a reliable and complete offense for these quarterback’s to rely on, the Jets will be doomed to an existence of constant on the field atrocities where opposing teams will be able to stack the line and blitz the starting quarterback while demoralizing his resiliency and morale with each snap of the ball.
Still this shouldn’t deter the Jets from urgently and extensively reviewing all the possibilities before selecting a starting quarterback. Even if this season turns out to be an unmitigated disaster, the Jets will at least have a resilient leader who will hopefully be able to overcome tremendous adversity and criticism both on and off the field. Also, the Jets can’t afford to go into the 2014 draft to try their luck with another young passer. Next season needs to be about strengthening the offense around the starter they select now to ensure that the rebuilding phase they are currently going through won’t be in vain come next season.
In the end, while there are a lot of unknowns with several management, coaching and players jobs stakes, the Jets need to be wise and careful when selecting the worthy candidate for this prestigious position. Whether the Jets will admit it or not, the integrity and the future well being of this franchise will be determined by the starting passer who will have the honor and responsibilities to reinvigorate this organization to the prominence it once had only a few short years ago.