August 14, 2013


No QB decision for Jaguars

Saturday’s starter remains a mystery


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
New York Jets kicker Billy Cundiff struggles to get his jersey and pads over his head as he makes his way to the practice field Tuesday at SUNY Cortland. The Jets held their final public practice this morning.

Staff Writer

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg continued to play the team’s quarterback competition close to the vest while meeting with the media separately after Tuesday’s practice session at SUNY Cortland.
Despite the subject being brought up with reporters’ questions couched in a number of different ways, Ryan wouldn’t say whether Mark Sanchez or rookie Geno Smith — still slowed somewhat by an ankle injury suffered last Friday in the preseason opener at Detroit — would get the nod.
“We haven’t done that yet,” Ryan said when asked if the decision had been made. “We’ll see how it keeps going as the week goes, and then we’ll make that decision. Number one, there doesn’t have to be a timetable, but we want to see obviously where Geno’s at, how he’s progressing in the week and we’ll make that decision.
“Geno seems to be getting a little better, but it’s still kind of noticeable that he’s got a little bit of a limp. I don’t think it’s as bad as it was.”
“A lot of variables,” Mornhinweg said when asked about the quarterback competition. “Geno’s nicked up just a little bit. He’s done very well up to that point, and Mark has played at a high level fairly consistently. We’re still working on playing at a high level throughout the game.
“I believe I’ve mentioned this, I’ve been proud of (Sanchez) on a couple of different occasions. After the Green and White Game, it didn’t go quite as he wanted it to, then he kept battling and hung in there and had a couple of great plays there late. Then in this game he had one backfire on him badly (an interception returned for a touchdown) and then he hung in there and had a beautiful drive there on his last drive.”
And is Smith’s ankle injury, and how it’s healing, the primary reason for a Saturday starter not being named yet?
“I think number one let’s see how the week plays out and then we’ll make the right decision then,” Ryan said. “Is that (injury) a factor? Certainly it’s a factor. Is it the primary one? I don’t know, a lot of factors go into it. But let’s get to where we feel good about the decision, and it’s a complete decision, not just for Tuesday’s press conference. Let’s make sure we’re making the appropriate decision at the appropriate time.
“We’ll see how the rest of this week goes. We certainly want to give both guys the opportunity to be with the once (first team); we’ll just see how that plays out.”
“I appreciate (Smith) pushing through that thing,” Mornhinweg said of the injury. “You know when you’re nicked up you have to play well, as well. You have to play well when you’re nicked up or otherwise you might as well be with the doggone trainer, and he’s done some good things this week even though he’s still gimping around a little bit.
“Has anyone taken the lead in the race? Look, they’re busting. They’re busting every day to get better each meeting and each practice, period, done,” he added. “This evaluation is a daily evaluation. Every player gets graded every play in practice and the preseason games, and it backs a cumulative type (of) evaluation as we go.”
The topic of conversation with Ryan then shifted to a timetable for deciding who will start the season-opener against visiting Tampa Bay on Sept. 8, with it being noted that the eventual starters usually get more playing time starting in the third preseason game.
“That’s usually it, but it’s not set in stone that it’s an absolute must that has to happen,” Ryan said. “We still may be in the evaluating stage for all of the positions. We have competition at guard, and yet a young guy that we feel great about, Brian Winters, hasn’t been able to play yet. We still have great competition at the safety spot. There’s a lot of competition for a lot of spots, not just quarterback.”
During Tuesday’s practice, Sanchez went 9-of-13 and Smith 8-of-10 during team drills. Sanchez hit wide receiver Jeremy Kerley in the middle of end zone on the first play of a situation goal line drill (third-down play), while Smith threw three incompletions.
In an earlier goal-line drill, after running back Chris Ivory bashed in for a TD, Sanchez rolled right and hit tight end Konrad Reuland for a score. Smith rolled right on his first play and threw a pass intended for tight end Jeff Cumberland that was broken up by safety Rontez Miles. On his second play, Smith again rolled right, kept the ball and scored.
Mangold’s QB Take
Center Nick Mangold seemed a little annoyed when asked about his take on the quarterback competition.
“Listen, you guys are going to ask questions all the time about quarterbacks, and I’ve got bigger issues up front that I’m worrying about, so I don’t have an answer at the moment,” he said. “I have guards that I’ve got to get ready with. We’ve got guys who have been dinged up a little bit so we’ve been shuffling around and I think that so far we’ve done a pretty good job of being able to manage that. I think that Willie (Campbell) and (Stephen) Peterman are good additions for us.”
Evaluating Rookie Smith
Asked about if he’s seen a dip in Smith’s performance from the start of camp on through, Ryan said “I don’t know about that. He’s certainly had his moments where he’s looked great. Not just the first week but he looked good in the game, he was six-of-seven passing I think, so I don’t know if that’s it. Did he have a couple of rough days? Absolutely. But everybody’s had some rough days.”
The Unseen Interception
Asked about Sanchez’s first pass Friday night, which was picked off and returned 14 yards for a touchdown by the Lions’ Ziggy Ansah, Ryan said that “On that particular play you’ve got to have vision, and where he’s looking or whatever, you have to have a certain vision to you that “He look, we see’ve already got the tackle already moving out with him — obviously you don’t need to throw that ball. Where his eyes were at, we’ve got to fix that. And we worked at, through corrections and all that type of stuff we’ve really worked at....Marty is hammering it, and David Lee (quarterbacks coach) has. I mean it can’t happen, it can’t happen again, there’s no doubt. “
Ryan admitted after the game that he didn’t see the interception, as he was busy helping coach the defense, and took some heat for that. Asked if he feels he’s being judged differently on the heels of a couple of non-playoff seasons (after the team made the AFC championship game his first two years), Ryan noted: “I’m using the same words, but yeah, that could be. To me, there’s no difference. I missed plays my first couple of years, too. Every coach in the league’s that way. I think it’s kind of interesting that most people get it. Most people understand that that’s just part of it. But for the people that don’t they’re “Oh, my coach needs to be standing up there,” that’s fine. Your coach is probably not coaching if he sees every play. You’ve got to teach, you’ve got to do all those types of things.”
Ivory Strong Again
After being slowed down by a hamstring injury at the start of camp, running back Chris Ivory engaged in a second straight day of contact drills Tuesday and, like Monday, looked strong.
“We finally get him out there and he looks good,” Ryan said. “He looks like (what) we always thought we were getting — just a big back who’s physical, good vision. I really like his running style, and as far as the protection, the good thing is he was doing the mental part so he’s picked up the protections better, and it’s just a matter of getting him on the practice field.
“But certainly he has that kind of talent, that vision, that burst and that power. We really won’t see the power until we start tackling, but believe me, it’s there.”


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