CORTLAND, N.Y. — Mark Sanchez arrived in his car around the same time as the bus carrying Geno Smith and the rest of the New York Jets’ rookies rolled up to the dorms at SUNY Cortland.
For Day 1 of training camp, this quarterback competition was even.
Now the real stuff starts when the team practices for the first time Friday, with all eyes on the two guys under center as the Jets try to decide on a starter.
“That’s something you want to do sooner rather than later,” coach Rex Ryan said Thursday. “But I think the big thing is to make sure there’s fair competition and you feel good about the decision.”
And, it’s one that can set the tone for the season and go a long way into determining Ryan’s fate with the franchise.
After a 6-10 season and missing the playoffs for the second straight year, Ryan faces an uncertain future — especially if the Jets are sitting home again when the postseason begins in January.
“When I make that decision, clearly I’ll feel great about it,” Ryan said. “And not just me, but I’ll lean on several other people. But, it has to be the right decision.”
Sanchez was last involved in a true competition when he was a rookie in 2009, when he beat out Kellen Clemens and then went to two straight AFC title games. Times sure have changed. Turning over the ball 52 times in a two-year span will certainly threaten anyone’s job security.
The hype of last training camp with Tim Tebow in town probably won’t be even close to matched, but Sanchez is in for the biggest fight of his career.
The strong-armed Smith was considered a first-round talent after a record-setting career at West Virginia, but unexpectedly fell in the draft — all the way into the second round. That’s where the Jets snatched him up and immediately inserted him into an open competition with Sanchez.
“I have a goal in mind, a job to do, which is to come in and compete,” Smith said. “And that’s what I’m going to do.”