I have found it necessary to make this post because of the mainstream media's complete lack of journalistic integrity and straight-up logic on the Jets QB situation, as well as the back and forth going on in some of the comments sections of GGN with regards to the Sanchez injury and Geno's bad first start. So I'm going to try to explain what's going on as succinctly as possible and provide some opinions:
1. Geno Smith had a bad game.
This seems obvious, but we have to acknowledge it: Geno did some things well, but generally when your QB plays like he did you are not going to win games. We were only down by 1 point when he left the game, but that was more on some crazy good play by our defense and more than a little luck (really we should have been down at least 8 given the easy TD pass Eli Manning had to Hakeem Nicks had Nicks looked over to his outside rather than inside). The first interception was a mediocre decision with some poor placement but ultimately still could have resulted in a positive play had Ryan Spadola fought harder for the ball. The second and third interceptions are completely on him, no doubt, as was the safety. The offensive line wasn't doing him too many favors, but in the NFL you're going to get pressure, and at best he was inconsistent under pressure. So all in all, a bad debut for the rookie.
2. Mark Sanchez also had a bad game.
On the other hand, this seems to be getting NO press whatsoever. His box score looks pretty good, 5/6 for 72 yards. However, that doesn't include a sack and a fumble, which were a result of his incessant penchant for holding onto the ball for far too long. It also doesn't account for how it looked, which was as shaky as ever--a common theme for Mark Sanchez when he puts up decent-to-good stat lines. Moreover, this was against second- and third-stringers. You know who did better than him under the same circumstances? Matt Simms, the fourth-string QB. Simms also played similarly as good against that same level of competition throughout the preseason. I'm not trying to say that Simms is better than Sanchez, as in the end this is still the preseason and I'm sure Simms has gotten more work with the teammates he was playing with than Sanchez did which matters to a decent degree, but ultimately you would expect your expected starter to blow your 4th-string QB out of the water in basically every category, and that's not at all what happened.
3. This was Geno Smith's first start, whereas Mark Sanchez is entering his fifth year in the league.
I don't think I can reiterate this enough times--Geno Smith was seeing his first extended action against live competition at a professional level, while Mark Sanchez has started more regular season games in the NFL than most quarterbacks ever have. The book on Mark Sanchez is written. Geno Smith's hasn't made it out of the prologue yet. Any evaluation of the two must start from this point if you are going to be fair about it. And if you are still holding out hope for Sanchez to have an Eli-like redemption to his career, I can only pray for the speedy return of your sanity.
4. There is nothing definite as far as Geno Smith's readiness for the NFL.
I think the thing that has bothered me most about the whole media-driven narrative and the comments on GGN is that there seems to be a consensus that wholly based on this one start, Geno Smith is obviously not ready to be a starting QB in the NFL. This is pure speculation and conjecture based on his one and only professional start and extended action in a preseason game. That is not very much to go on, folks. If he comes out against the Eagles and lights up their starters for the first series or two, and then continues to dominate against the backups for the rest of the first half and whatever else he might play, are we all changing our tunes? Personally, I still wouldn't because it's just another small sample.
So you might be wondering what is my point, then? It is simply this: we do not know and cannot know whether or not Geno Smith is ready to start in the NFL. Two starts is simply not enough. The only thing we can do is evaluate Mark Sanchez vs. Geno Smith and play the better quarterback. All of the speculation about whether it's better to start him or sit him is equally useless because there's no real answer. We've seen examples of both approaches succeeding and failing. So in the end, the best thing to do is what's best for winning games. If you truly believe that Mark Sanchez is the better QB, then start him. If it's Geno Smith, then likewise.
So given all the above, what do I think we should do?
Start Geno Smith.
Mark Sanchez is at best as mediocre as he's always been. Geno in that small sample size I think showed a consistently higher ability to run the short -passing west coast offense. He can at the very least accurately throw screen passes, which you cannot say for Sanchez. Beyond that, the mistakes Geno made in the game are the same mistakes Sanchez still makes to this day. Given that Sanchez is in his fifth year and Geno is in his first, it's safe to say that there is far more room for improvement in Geno than there is in Sanchez, and for those reasons the clear choice for starter is Geno Smith.