With so much parody in the NFL, it can be tough to make any kind of predictions, especially more than two months before the regular season starts. However, if there’s a good bet that can be made this far in advance, it’s that at some point this season the New York Jets will bench their starting quarterback in favor of the backup. Obviously, who will be the starter and who will be the backup is yet to be determined, but regardless of who starts and who the back up is at the start of the season, a swap of quarterbacks at some point during the season could be imminent.
There are so many signs that point to a quarterback change for the Jets being likely. First and foremost, there are the issues they had at quarterback last season with the profound struggles of Mark Sanchez, constant speculation about starting Tim Tebow, Sanchez eventually getting benched in favor of Greg McElroy, and Sanchez only finishing the season as the start because of McElroy suffering a concussion. There was a lot of chaos and a lot of moving parts at quarterback last year, and while Tebow was released, the drafting of Geno Smith provided no clarity in New York’s quarterback situation, which means there could once again be a lack of continuity at that position.
Another reason to think that the Jets will have a quarterback change at some point this season is because head coach Rex Ryan is on the hot seat. After making a number of brash guarantees and predictions, Ryan has failed to deliver, and 2013 may be his last chance to bring the Jets back to the playoffs. If his team isn’t winning, Ryan will have to make changes in season, and quarterback will likely be one of the first changes he makes. The Jets schedule could work to expedite that change, as they play three of their first five games on the road and five of their first eight games against teams that made the playoffs last year, which means wins could be tough to find for New York early in the season.
With a coach who’s desperate for wins, a tough schedule, and a lack of quality skill players to help, the starting quarterback will certainly have a lot going against him at the beginning of the season, and if he’s not able to overcome it, then a change is likely to come. Then, the biggest question facing the Jets is not who wins the preseason quarterback battle between Sanchez and Smith, but would it be better to replace Smith with Sanchez or replace Sanchez with Smith midway through the season.
It’s no secret that a majority of Jets fans prefer to go with Smith, but it stands to reason that a rookie quarterback would have difficulty winning under these circumstances. If Smith falters, Ryan would be forced to go back to Sanchez with hope, but little confidence, that he will be able to help turn things around. On the other hand, the Jets could go back to Sanchez as the starter, much to the dismay of their fans, but he may be their best chance to win right now. Then if things don’t work out, Smith will have had more time to prepare before taking over the starting job, while also getting to play against a more manageable schedule the second half of the season.
Whoever the Jets ultimately choose to be their starting quarterback to begin the season isn’t likely to be the starter the entire season. With so much pressure to win, so much working against them on the field, and so little clarity at the quarterback position heading into training camp the Jets look like a team that will once again have a lot of controversy at that position. Right now, it’s tough to know when it might come and who might be replacing whom, but the odds are good that at some point this season there will be a quarterback change in New York.