Geno Smith named Jets' Week 1 starter
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Geno it is, for now.
The Jets finally announced their poorly kept secret Wednesday: Geno Smith will start Sunday's regular-season opener against the Bucs. But the front office made it clear the quarterback competition is ongoing.
Smith will bring his 22 preseason completions against one of the best cornerbacks of this generation, former Jet Darrelle Revis. As expected, Smith said he's up to the challenge.
He reiterated his desire to become the Jets' franchise quarterback, adding, "I think that's the reason why they brought me in.'' But he quickly pointed out he "doesn't want to look ahead.''
And neither do the Jets.
Rex Ryan, owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik took turns outlining their "short-sighted'' stance on the quarterback situation. "As you guys know by now, that's our mantra,'' Idzik said. "Competition will always be ongoing.''
One of Wednesday's's few definitive answers is that Jersey guy Matt Simms, who also never has thrown a pass in the NFL, will be Smith's backup Sunday.
Neither Ryan nor Idzik would say whether Smith had won the job outright. Instead, both admitted the obvious: Mark Sanchez's bruised right shoulder was a factor in their decision.
For more than a week, the Jets have offered no details about Sanchez's injury (other than that he is day to day). But in a video posted to their official website Wednesday morning, Ryan said of the injury: "It's similar to last week. We knew he wasn't ready then, he's not ready now.''
Ryan backpedaled a bit, telling reporters with a laugh: "I must have been misquoted. If I said it, that's what I meant.'' (Ryan said he was referring to Sanchez's availability for the preseason finale against the Eagles.)
But a few players said it was obvious last week that Smith would start because only he and Simms were taking practice reps. "Anybody with eyes could see that,'' said one Jet.
Idzik voiced support of Ryan's decision to play Sanchez Aug. 24 against the Giants. Idzik said the plan was to see "as much as we could in four quarters. We regret the fact he was injured. We feel terribly about that. Mark feels worse than we do.''
The Jets laid to rest (at least for now) the idea of placing Sanchez on injured reserve when Ryan said he "100 percent will be on the active roster'' this week. Idzik added "we're not looking at'' short-term IR status for Sanchez. "Hopefully, we'll get him back here soon.''
But when pressed about their long-term view of Sanchez, no one in the front office would look past Sunday. Idzik said Sanchez "of course'' will get an opportunity to start again, but cautioned: "The one thing this league teaches you is, if you look too far ahead, then it'll come back to bite you. We're just focused squarely on this week . . . and getting Mark better, so that he can get back and help us win.''
For this week, at least, Smith will lead the offense. Although the Jets expect him to make mistakes, they expressed nothing but confidence, largely because they believe in him, but also because they have no choice.
"Both,'' rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. "He's our brother in arms, so we've got to lean on him. And he's the man in charge right now, so you've got to have confidence in him. And if nobody else does, we do.''
As long as Smith doesn't try to do too much, Ryan expects him to be fine.
Smith didn't seem stressed. Asked if the Bucs can "rattle'' him, he gave a terse "No.''