The New York Jets officially stated Wednesday what had become obvious over the past week: rookie Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback for Sunday's regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The job essentially became Smith's when returning starter Mark Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of a preseason game on Aug. 24.
"We're going to go with Geno Smith as our quarterback and we are excited about that," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
Smith suffered an ankle injury in his preseason debut against the Detroit Lions but returned for the third preseason game against the New York Giants and threw three interceptions. Still, Ryan is confident that Smith has a good grasp on offensive coordinator Marty Mornhiweg's scheme.
"Learning Marty's system, he really did a tremendous job, as did all the quarterbacks," Ryan said. "I think he really fits the system. He's a guy who is very accurate with the football, he has good mobility in the pocket and he's adjusting to the speed of the game."
It's uncertain how long Sanchez will be out and whether he will get the job back once he's healthy enough to play. He has not practiced since he suffered the injury.
The Jets also have quarterbacks Matt Simms and Brady Quinn on their roster.
"It's unfortunate that Mark was injured, obviously, but he is working extremely hard to get back," Ryan said. "But he's just not ready right now. It's similar to last week -- we knew he wasn't ready then. He's not ready now and we'll see what the future holds as we move forward."
Mornhinweg likes the way that Smith, the Jets' second-round pick out of West Virginia in the 2013 NFL Draft, has practiced.
"I think his confidence physically is at a high level right now," Mornhinweg said. "He came out the other day and looked like he was 100 percent."