If you took a poll regarding the New York Jets current quarterback situation you would most likely find a rather negative, pessimistic outlook. Not much faith has been placed in either signal caller’s hands by the media and fans, but the same can’t be said for head coach Rex Ryan.
“We are in a lot better shape at quarterback than I was my first year here in ’09," Ryan said. "It’s not even close,” said Rex Ryan in an interview with Adam Schein on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio. “To me, hey, there’s two real options there. And you’ve got a battle with [Greg] McElroy and [Matt] Simms for that third spot. I feel great about that.”
Having confidence in his team has never been something that Ryan has shied away from. He has compared Antonio Cromartie’s work ethic to that of Walter Payton and spent an interview protecting his merits of being a great defensive coach. The confidence has exuded from Ryan even though NFL pundits don’t seem to have much optimism concerning the 2013 Jets.
Most NFL critics aren’t projecting the Jets to make the playoffs and Mel Kiper Jr. went to the extent of calling this the worst team in the NFL. Regardless, Ryan thinks the Jets are in good shape but that doesn’t always bode well for the team. Just look to last year when he thought the 2012 Jets might have been the best team he had ever coached. That season was tumultuous and was the first time Ryan had a season in which he finished with a losing record.
The interesting part about Ryan’s comments is that he may have a good point. In 2009 the roster depth was set with Erik Ainge, Mark Sanchez, and Kellen Clemens. The quarterbacks had a total of eight NFL starts between them, which all belonged to Clemens. He didn’t impress in those eight starts though, averaging less than a touchdown per game.
There is more depth at the QB position than in 2009 due to Greg McElroy’s slight experience and Matt Simms early impressive start. Sanchez may have the critics laughing at his every fault but he still has proven more worth than Clemens did in 2009. The question is how far along Smith’s maturation is in developing reads and routes compared to where Sanchez was in his development in 2009.
“It’s not just on one guy,” said Ryan. “ So obviously we have to get better at receiver as well or it doesn’t matter who you put back at quarterback,” Ryan told Schein. “But clearly some of the mistakes that we had at the quarterback position are inexcusable. You don’t turn the ball over. You can’t turn the ball over in the red zone. And we did it in multiple cases last year.”
In that 2009 season hope was beginning to rise out of the ashes of Brett Favre. Fans were being told the future was brighter and that it would be Sanchez to lead them through it. Year’s later things have changed and the fans have hardened. They haven’t fully bought into the Geno Smith experiment because they know the feeling of having the rug pulled out from under them.