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August 5, 2013

 

Mixed reviews in QB battle

Smith gets start, Sanchez is booed

JetsJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Jets wide receiver Clyde Gates (left) and defensive safety Antonio Allen warm up before the Green and White Scrimmage Saturday at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

The first true test for Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith played out in front of a crowd of 6,000 plus fans under sunny skies at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex Saturday night for the New York Jets Green and White Scrimmage.
Both quarterbacks had good moments and there were some unforgettable one, especially for the fifth-year veteran Sanchez who was booed a couple of times.
For the record, rookie Smith started with the first unit and had three rounds with them. His overall line for the night saw the second round draft pick out of West Virginia complete nine-for-16 passing attempts for 79 yards. Though he got inside the red-zone (inside the 20-yard line), his offense failed to come up with a touchdown.
Sanchez only had one series with the first unit and had an overall night of six-for-11 passing for 94 yards with one touchdown, an interception and one sack. The touchdown toss was a 57-yard completion to wide receiver Stephen Hill on the final play of the scrimmage. His interception was with the second offense against the first defense and cornerback Antonio Cromartie made a great leaping pick over the intended receiver, Vidal Hazelton. Sanchez overthrew Clyde Gates in the end zone which drew the boo-birds and Jeremy Kerley dropped a wide open toss for two of Sanchez’s incompletions.
“I think it was just a play where I was in press coverage,” Cromartie said of his interception. “It is just something that you have to expect coming from a West Coast Offense. You know, to me, when I was playing against a West Coast Offense, once they get close to the 50 yard line it is “take a shot time” no matter what down it is. So my thing was try to get the receiver off balance then once the ball is in the air I just try to go get the ball.”
As for the touchdown grab, Hill said he just did what he was suppose to do.
“Basically, it was an opportunity to make a big play,” Hill said. “Mark definitely put it out there for me to go get it, especially on the run, so that was a great play.”
He was asked if he pushed off the defender because there was some contact.
“That’s just competition,” Hill replied. “Ellis (Lankster) got in my way and so we both were fighting for the ball. If I pushed off, there wasn’t a flag on the play so it was a touchdown. So I was just happy for that.”
Neither quarterback ran much, though they were under pressure a number of times. Sanchez had two rushing attempts for minus six yards, but the one loss was a moment he’d rather forget as he stumbled down while backpedaling from behind the center once and lost 11 yards on the turf sack. Veteran linebacker Calvin Pace got the only true sack of Sanchez on the night.
Smith ran the ball once for a two-yard gain. He had one other carry for six yards, but it was called back because of a holding penalty.
Both quarterbacks gave their impressions of the night after the autograph session was over.
“It was good,” Sanchez said. “We threw a couple deep balls out there. Cro (Cromartie) made a hell of a play on one of them and just beat the receiver over there. Stephen went out there and got one for me, which was nice. (Coach) Marty (Mornhinweg) is really stressing that. That we want to be able to push the field and get the ball up the field vertically. I thought we did a great job. I thought he did a great job mixing up calls and getting us down the field, mixing a little no-huddle.”
“I think it went well,” Smith said of his first pro scrimmage. “I think guys did a great job of competing. I think we ran the ball fairly well. We were able to move the ball down the field. We got a chance, I think about two or three times in the red zone. We weren’t able to capitalize and get touchdowns. That’s something we’ll need to improve on, but overall, I think we did a pretty good job.
“The first drive we did a pretty good job of moving the ball down the field,” he added. “Got into the red zone. Had a costly penalty, something we’ll need to correct. Overall I thought we did a good job as a whole today of moving the ball, moving the chains, but we just have to get better in the red zone.”
“I think there were some good moments and bad moments,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. “Some of the protection never held up and then when it did, I thought the quarterbacks threw the ball well. So that’s what I was telling the threes in there, I’m like, ‘You give (Greg) McElroy, time he’s going to hit it,’ and sure enough he did. But really with all the quarterbacks, it was a great throw that Mark made to Stephen, obviously, at the end there to close out the scrimmage.
“He (Smith) was absolutely tremendous in the first drive and that’s something we have to learn from. Penalties kill you,” he continued, a flag canceling out a touchdown run. “We had two big penalties that took a touchdown off the board and what I told the team is that those are huge momentum things. The defense, you let them get a stop in the red zone, they feel great about themselves. That elevates their play and offensively it kind of takes the air out of your sails a little bit. You’ve already knocked it in, you think you scored a touchdown and then it’s whipped off the board with a penalty. That, we need to prevent.”
There was a lot of post-game talk about Smith getting the start and more reps with the first unit than Sanchez, but Ryan says don’t read too much into that.
“I think when you looked at the reps overall, I think they’re pretty similar,” Ryan said. “We’re trying to get really all the groups and a lot of the guys in there and (we) never had an exact count on who was doing what but we were trying to get the number of reps more than just ones (first team) and twos (second team) and all that stuff.
“This is just one opportunity to come out here and compete and certainly this is really the beginning stages, if you will, of the competition,” he added. “I think it’ll be interesting when we go to Detroit and we start playing some live preseason games.”
“We’ve been going two days and two days,” Sanchez said of the situation. “Today was Geno’s day with the ones. So any chance with the ones I got, you try to take advantage of it, but that was expected as he got yesterday and today and then I will get the next two.”
“We’ve been going on and off, so today was my day and I did expect to get good reps.” Smith said. “Obviously, we were splitting it. Coach (David) Lee and Marty (Mornhinweg) were deciding that and I just went with what they gave me.”
McElroy did have the best night of the four quarterbacks and delivered on cue when he got his two chances. The third-year man from Alabama went a perfect five-for-five for 128 yards and two touchdowns, one a 47-yard toss to Ryan Spadola and, the other, a 70-yard bomb to Hazelton.
Matt Simms, son of legendary New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, completed three-of-nine passes for 19 yards with one interception.
Practice resumed this morning as the Jets now prepare for their first preseason game Friday in Detroit.

 

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