August 7, 2013
Rex opens with Sanchez
Veteran QB to start against Lions
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is going with the veteran ... for now.
Ryan announced during his news conference after Tuesday’s SUNY Cortland practice session that Mark Sanchez will start at quarterback over rookie Geno Smith on Friday, when the Jets open the preseason by visiting the Detroit Lions.
He also cautioned those who would read too much into the decision.
“Mark will start the game, but we’ll also play Geno with the ones. We’ll kind of keep that rotation going so they both get reps with the ones,” said Ryan, referring to the first team offense. “We haven’t decided exactly yet what the play times will be with the ones, snaps and all that.”
When asked why Sanchez got the starting nod, Ryan said “Well again, it’s been an even competition. We’ve been rotating days and things like that. Certainly he’s the incumbent but again the competition starts off, we’ll see how it goes from here. But it seemed like the natural thing to do.
“We’ll put our ones out, and we’ll play it. The preseason doesn’t end after this first game. Again, we’ll take it through as much as possible.”
Sanchez drilled with the first team during Tuesday’s practice after Ryan had indicated on Monday that Smith would.
“And then I said we’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll have him do that, and then we’ll go back and let Mark start the game,” the Jets head man said by way of explanation. “Because really we’ve been going every two days, so stay in that same kind of rhythm and both guys will play in the game.”
“This is his game,” Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg later said of Sanchez. “He’ll start and go with the ones. We’d certainly like to get Geno in just a little bit with the ones and then he’ll take the twos and then we’ll progress from there.
“First thing is, he (Sanchez) has earned it. He’s had an outstanding training camp, so that’s the first thing. The second thing is, he’s been the starter here. The first game will typically be his, but he’s earned it as well. So those two things kind of go together.”
As for Smith, Mornhinweg said: “He’s had a terrific start to camp. He did some very good things in the Green and White as well. And then he’s dipped just a little bit so he’s got to recover. I think he threw his first interception, two of them, was it yesterday? I’m getting the days mixed up a little bit. We’ll see how he rebounds. Today was a little better than yesterday.”
Asked what he can specifically learn about Sanchez and Smith by seeing them in a game situation rather than practice, Ryan said: “I think the big thing is going to be taking that rush. I mean, we know Detroit really rushes the passer. This is going to be good. One thing I know about (Lions defensive coach Jim) Washburn, he’ll get after the quarterback. So I think that’ll be good. We’ll see how guys react to it. We’ve got to protect the football and we’ve got to be smart with the football. So I think it will be a good test, no question about it.”
Ryan also noted that while the decision has yet to be made, it’s possible that the first team may be in the game a little longer than normal for a preseason game so both quarterbacks can get time with that unit.
Neither quarterback was made available to the news media Tuesday after practice.
Rex’s Mood Improves
Tuesday’s session was an improvement over Monday’s, as Ryan saw it, which along with the excitement of starting the preseason schedule in three days had him in a good mood.
“Good practice today,” he said. “Much better than yesterday, which I expected. Communication was better, I think just the whole attitude of the practice was much better. We had a four-minute situation, a two-minute situation, an end-of-the-game situation so we’re trying to throw it all out there. A no-brainer situation, if you will. We’re coming up with everything, and we should be prepared. I think the guys are working hard, the preparations in the evening are good.
“This will be fun. I think going against Detroit ... a lot of playmakers there, so it should be a great test for our defense. And when you look at them from an offensive standpoint, their team can really rush the passer so I think it’s going to be a good test for us.”
Rookie Milliner Moving Up
Despite Dee Milliner just having signed his contract last week, Ryan indicated when the subject came up that, as per the depth chart released Monday, the rookie from Alabama has supplanted veteran Kyle Wilson in the cornerback rotation.
“We’re pretty comfortable with him, obviously,” he said of Milliner. “With Kyle, in this day and age you start three corners and basically it’s just who’s your corner going to be in regular personnel, that’s almost what it’s become. Kyle gives you a lot of flexibility in the fact he can play nickel, he can play outside, he can play inside and he actually plays safety. We’re working all of those types of things. But I feel very comfortable with Dee out there in regular personnel situations.”
Wilson himself, when asked about the possible switch in position from cornerback to safety (where he played at times last season), said: “They just asked me whatever. Obviously I can do it; it’s sort of like playing nickel, just playing from a different perspective. It really doesn’t matter; I like to play and I like to make plays. It’s a challenge for me, obviously, to play all these different positions, but it’s a challenge I accept and I have fun doing it.”
And what about Milliner coming in very quickly seeing time with the first team playing on the outside?
“I can’t control any of that,” Wilson said. “I had a good practice, I’ve been having good practices. I just like to go out and work on different things each day, and I go out and compete. I can’t worry about anything else. I’m just happy with the way things have been going; I’ve been playing the way I want to play out there and I’m happy with that. I’ll just continue to go out there each day and do my best and just do whatever they ask me to do.”
As for the learning process involved in playing different positions, Wilson noted: “You just have to be smart, mentally prepared, you name it. You have to do your homework; you have to be there, know situations. You’ve got to know everything. That’s a challenge for me, and I definitely accept it.
“You don’t know where I’m going to be at; anybody on defense could play anywhere so I think it’s a strength of our team. You know how much we’ve been prepared, everybody learning multiple positions, moving around, so everybody feels comfortable. To learn nickel you have to learn the whole inside game, so that’s communicating with safeties, corners and linebackers, so you’re kind of forced to learn everything. Corners, you’ve got to communicate there and safety you just learn a little bit more.”
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe