Well it appears that this saturday's start is going to Mark Sanchez. As far as i'm concerned, and as common sense might dictate, this is probably because of Geno's ankle injury. I am not happy about this as I wanted to see Geno get more of a real look in a preseason game. That being said, I can see the reasoning for this decision. As our very own John B mentioned, when in practice, the quarterback can't get hit, and you can also control an injured player's workload. You can't do that in a game where everything is live and full speed. If Geno's ankle is in fact still not healed and prone to being worsened, I am in favor of letting him sit the game and heal up. Rex is on record saying that the competition could be extended to the third preseason game if necessary. I don't think it's an unfair hypothesis that Geno will get the start against the Giants should his ankle be okay. I don't think Rex's mention of possibly extending the competition and not starting Geno this week are unrelated, I think the latter may have influenced the former. It seems plausible enough to me.
And yet some insist that this occurrence is evidence of this competition being rigged towards Sanchez. Excuse my french but I think that's bogus. The idea is that Rex is giving Sanchez the start again for no good reason. Except there is a good reason. Geno has a bum ankle right now. I'm just speaking for myself here but I would rather extend the competition and break a standard preseason structure as opposed to worsening an injury to a guy that I want to see get a fair shot. There's then the argument that if he practiced during the week, why can't he play? Well, as stated before, practice is controlled and doesn't permit hitting the quarterbacks. It's structured in a way where you can protect a guy who's hurt. You can't do that in a game. All it takes is one awkward-angled sack or accidental trip over a lineman to knock Geno out of the rest of the preseason. It's a fair reason to not give him an extended workload this weekend. And for whatever it's worth, several beat writers also agree with the notion that Sanchez is only starting this game because of Geno's ankle. Say what you will about them, but they're actually right rather often.
And my opinion of this being a fair and legitimate competition extends beyond this one event. Going all the way back to the season-ending presser from January, Rex didn't commit to Sanchez as being the starter. In February during the combine presser, he brought up that Sanchez would have to compete for his job before anyone was even signed or drafted. Ever since OTAs these two have been getting an even split of reps with the first team. And in a quarterback competition like this, it's a very common occurrence for the incumbent/ veteran to start the first preseason game over the neophyte. Kevin Kolb got the first PS start with the Cards last season, Matt Flynn got the first PS start with the Seahawks (and the 2nd one, too). Kellen Clemens started the first preseason game back in 2009. Matt Moore started the first preseason game for the Phins last season. And incidentally, all four of these players lost. Nothing has come off as unfair about this competition thus far. Trust me, there is such a thing as an unfair competition. Brandon Weeden was supposedly "competing" with Colt Mccoy for the Browns' gig last season. He ended up getting the job basically as soon as training camp started. And right now Weeden is yet again "competing" with Jason Campbell even though Weeden's been getting every first-team snap. From the outside looking in, both players seem to be getting a fair shot at this job.
One other argument i've seen is that this competition has been staged to look fair, but in reality Rex is going to give the job to Sanchez regardless. I have a number of problems with that sentiment. First of all, if Rex already had it set in his mind that he wants to give Sanchez the job, then he's just shortchanging Mark (and himself) by not giving him all the reps so that he can mesh with the rest of the offense with this new system. If he's splitting reps between the two, I think he intends to look at both guys. The counterpoint is that Rex is just making it look fair because his boss is making him and so that he doesn't look bad. I'm pretty sure that Rex can't hide that from Idzik given that Idzik is watching practice every day and talking to Rex constantly. Johnny Rocket has even said that he's going to have a say in who the starting QB is, and that this is a collaborative decision. What that essentially means is that even if Rex wanted to rig this competition, he couldn't because his boss isn't letting him.
So there it is. The competition isn't over yet, but right now, based on the evidence that's on the table right now, this appears to be a fairly set-up battle in which it's intended that both players be given a fair look. This could change based on how events unfold in the next week or so, but as of right now, In my opinion,I don't believe that there's anything that really screams "rigged" about this.
As always, a random poll for y'all (I voted for the first option).
Update: Rex said the main factor for starting 'Chez was Geno's ankle. And he also said that Mark Practiced well this week. Basically falls in line with what I thought.