Mangold: Sanchez gives us best chance to win

Nick Mangold | New York Jets

The 2013 regular season is right around the corner. A quarterback controversy is brewing between veteran Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith. As things start to heat up, center Nick Mangold is giving his long-time signal-caller a vote of confidence.

Who will be the New York Jets starting quarterback come Week 1? That is the million dollar question looming over the Big Apple as we head into training camp.

Gang Green made it clear that they would explore all options in the offseason in order to find a starting quarterback if Sanchez could not get the job done.

If one thing is for sure, veteran center Nick Mangold wants Sanchez in the offensive backfield this upcoming season.

"Whoever gives us the best chance to do that [win], we want out there -- and at this point, Mark gives us that best chance," Mangold said. Simply put, Mangold is backing up the quarterback that he is familiar with.

If we look at the statistics over the past few years, Mark's numbers grew each year from 2009-2011. His season yardage total increased year-by-year, as well as his quarterback rating, touchdowns, and his interceptions went down. However, in 2012, things went completely off the deep end.

Sanchez tallied career worst numbers and clearly felt the weight of New York on his shoulders. Every year Sanchez has been under more and more pressure by opposing defenses. His sack rate has increased each passing year and this does anything but help a quarterback's psyche. If No. 6 does not have time to set-up, read the field, and throw the ball, then Geno Smith probably won't stand much of a chance either.

It doesn't matter who is behind the wheel if the offensive line can't protect the quarterback. Injuries plagued the Jets' 2012 regular season. Tight end Dustin Keller, Sanchez's #1 target, suffered from hamstring and knee injuries that sidelined him for eight games last year. In the games that Keller missed, Sanchez seemed to be lost without his biggest, most reliable target on the field. Not only did Keller go down to injury, but Santonio Holmes did as well.

Injuries swept through the Jet's locker room in 2012 and Sanchez was hurt the most by them. Poor protection, injured receivers, a new offensive coordinator, Tebow-mania, and a horrible environment in the locker room all led to the demise of Sanchez's 2012 campaign.

This time around with a better offensive line, healthy receiving corps, a familiar offensive style of play, No Tebow, and a better camaraderie in the locker room, Sanchez has no excuse not to deliver.

The biggest separation between Sanchez and Smith is that Sanchez comes from a West Coast style of offense from when he played at USC with Pete Carroll. He excelled in a true West Coast style and he knows how the system is supposed to be run. This advantage will help Sanchez because he already knows the concepts of the system, the formations and packages, and he knows the plays. Smith comes from an Air-Raid style of offense at WVU.

West Virginia ran a very complex and unique style of offense while Smith was under center. The system had many options, which Smith could choose from. He could throw the ball, run the ball, or hand the ball off to a man running in motion. Smith stats were inflated by the production of his elite receiving corps, led by Tavon Austin. WVU threw a plethora of screens and ran countless trick plays, which will not translate well into the NFL. So off-the-bat, Smith is a step behind Sanchez in the Arms Race due to the lack of West Coast Offense I.Q.

Physically, Smith adds another dimension to the Jets' offense, with his ability to run. He can run the option and he can move outside of the pocket better than Sanchez. However, the Jets should not throw Smith the keys to the offense just for that reason.

If you look at the Redskins, RGIII took a beating each game because he ran too often. And this beating on RGIII led to a short postseason for Washington. If the Jets elect to go with the athletic Smith at quarterback, do not be surprised if Sanchez ends up back under center at some point in the season, due to an injury to Smith. While the quarterback battle will play out over the summer, Sanchez's familiarity with his teammates and Marty Mornhinweg's system could give him a leg up on his competition.

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