Rex Ryan holding off on naming Saturday's starting QB
CORTLAND, N.Y. - The Jets have only three days until their second preseason game against Jacksonville. And it seems Rex Ryan is prepared to wait until the last minute to unveil Saturday night's starting quarterback.
Ryan stood firm Tuesday in the face of questions about whether Geno Smith will start at home against the Jaguars. Although Ryan agreed it makes sense to start the rookie after Mark Sanchez took first-team reps last week at Detroit, he wouldn't concede.
"There doesn't have to be a timetable,'' Ryan said. "Obviously, we want to see where Geno's at, how he's progressing in the week and we'll make that decision.''
Smith still is somewhat hobbled by a right ankle sprain suffered in the 26-17 loss to the Lions, but his limp was far less noticeable Tuesday.
"I appreciate him pushing through that thing,'' offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "You have to play well when you're nicked up or otherwise you might as well be with the doggone trainer, and he's done some good things this week, even though he's still gimping around a little bit.''
Ryan said Smith's recovery is one of several variables being taken into consideration by the coaching staff.
"Certainly, it's a factor,'' Ryan said. "Is it the primary one? I don't know. A lot of factors go into it. Let's make sure we're making the appropriate decision at the appropriate time.''
Sanchez took first-team reps during Tuesday's practice, which was geared toward installations, rather than typical live team drills. The fifth-year quarterback connected on 2 of 4 passes, with a touchdown and a sack, and Smith completed 4-for-8.
Both quarterbacks are expected to get playing time with the first-team offense against the Jaguars, Ryan said. But neither he nor Mornhinweg was willing to say which one is ahead.
"Has anyone taken the lead in the race? Look, they're busting every day to get better each meeting and each practice, period, done,'' Mornhinweg said, avoiding the question. "This evaluation is a daily evaluation. Every player gets graded every play in practice and the preseason games, and it backs a cumulative-type evaluation as we go.''
Ryan also said he's not tied to any timetable when it comes to naming his opening-day starter. When reminded that the starter in the regular season typically plays into the second half of the third preseason game, Ryan said: "Well, that's usually the scenario. Absolutely. But we'll see where we're at when we get there.
"It's not set in stone that it's an absolute must; that that has to happen. We may still be in the evaluating stage for all the positions.''
As for this weekend's starter, Ryan seems determined to keep that intel close to the vest. But he made it clear that the opinions of Jets Nation -- however loud and negative they might be -- will "absolutely not'' have any bearing on the decision.
"When things go wrong, I certainly understand it,'' Ryan said of the boos. "There's going to be criticism and things like that, but to start with, I would hope that our fans would be behind us all the way.''
Mornhinweg admitted it would be "better'' if a front-runner had emerged in the quarterback race, but stressed "in many cases'' you have to give competing players time to "show their natural playing ability.''