FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The drama and intrigue surrounding who will be the Jets' starting quarterback reached cloak-and-dagger levels Tuesday when Rex Ryan refused to reveal who would be playing Thursday night in the Jets' final preseason game.
That's right, we're talking preseason here, as in the game that is usually reserved for third- and fourth-stringers. Ryan said he didn't plan to announce any of his starters until game day. What's even more odd is that he said there's a chance he would do the same thing in the regular season and not announce whether incumbent Mark Sanchez or rookie Geno Smith had won the starting job until game day of Week 1 against Tampa Bay.
"That's a possibility," Ryan said. "It's certainly a possibility."
One thing that is certain is that the starter for Thursday's game against the Eagles won't be Sanchez, who is out with a right shoulder injury suffered after Ryan controversially decided to play him in the fourth quarter against the Giants on Saturday night.
Ryan has spent the last couple of days trying to sidestep questions on the quarterback situation. Things reached almost a surreal point when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went on a sports talk radio show Monday and verbally attacked a reporter who had been questioning Ryan at his postgame news conference Saturday night.
It is uncertain whether Sanchez will be ready for Week 1. Ryan did reveal Tuesday, however, that he has great confidence in the durability of Sanchez, whose practice time was limited to riding a stationary bicycle.
"You have to look at Mark's history," he said. "He's had a shoulder injury before, and obviously there are probably a million different shoulder injuries, but he's had a shoulder injury and was able to play. In I think our second year , he played through actually I think all of the postseason with it. I just remember him warming up in between series all the time. That's kind of how he stayed warm.
"One thing we know for sure: Mark is durable and he is going to work his tail off to be ready to go."
The Jets need to hope so, because it's becoming increasingly clear that Smith, who threw three interceptions against the Giants, is not ready to start at this level.
Still, the coach insists that the quarterback competition is ongoing.
Said Ryan: "I think for Week 1, until we name the starting quarterback, I would say that really anything's possible. So we'll weigh in all the factors. Certainly, the injury to Mark may be a factor, as well. Again, when we feel real good about it, we'll let everyone know."