Much has been debated over the quarterback situation in Florham Park, N.J. Will the Jets start the incumbent four-year starter Mark Sanchez (if healthy) or the rookie Geno Smith?
While the Jets finally settled on Smith, they should re-think their decision.
Mind you, this competition isn’t of the highest order, as Sanchez has more turnovers (52) the past two seasons than any other quarterback around, among his numerous unwanted achievements. In fact, the likely reason he’s still on the roster is his hefty guaranteed salary of $8.25 million, which the Jets think they can still get something out of.
Meanwhile Smith has yet to look the part—both on and off the field. The West Virginia alum made headlines by firing his agent just one day after dropping out of the first round of the draft. On the field against the Giants, Smith was intercepted three times in putting up a 45.7 quarterback rating just a couple of weeks ago. Making things worse for Smith is a bum ankle suffered early in the preseason that has robbed him of some mobility.
Oh wow, what great choices! Looks like another lost season for the Jets. Time for a bold change.
Instead of naming their latest high-round draft pick as starter the Jets need to think outside the box and choose someone who actually looks like he could run the team’s offense.
Enter undrafted free agent Matt Simms.
Simms impressed everyone by going 33-of-44 passing for 285 yards in the preseason finale against the Eagles, marking the only time this preseason that Jets fans saw some hope in the huddle and in the pocket.
Naturally, naming someone with this few accolades as starter would cause another firestorm in Florham Park, but the Jets seem to be a lightning rod for criticism anyway, so it really doesn’t matter.
There’s a lot to like about Simms. For one thing the Tennessee alum has great quarterback pedigree. His dad was former Giants great Phil Simms, who won the Super Bowl XXI MVP after tearing apart the Broncos. Meanwhile, his brother Chris spent five years in the league.
Still, this brings up the question of whether undrafted free agents can actually outplay those picked in the first or second rounds, like Sanchez and Smith.
Of course they can.
Look at Houston running back Arian Foster—another Tennessee alum. Foster went undrafted following the 2008 season. Just over a year later Foster was named the starter at running back (gasp!) for the Texans and went on to not only hold down the position, but also lead the league in rushing, and is still one of the best around.
Besides, Jets fans know how little draft position and college success mean to a player’s future value. Remember Vernon Gholston? In that same draft that Foster went unselected, the Jets took Gholston with the sixth overall pick. Gholston was released after playing sparingly in parts of three seasons and has been out of the NFL ever since.
Imagine if they had taken Foster with that pick instead. It would have been a firestorm for sure, and they would have looked like geniuses in the end.
This isn’t to say that Simms will work out. But Sanchez clearly hasn’t. His stats are arguably the worst among NFL starters over the last four years. Smith, in his admittedly brief audition, has not looked the part. The Jets have nothing to lose. How can you be worse than the worst?