FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- With nowhere to go but up, quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith fared reasonably well during the New York Jets' second OTA practice open to the media on Thursday.
Sanchez and Smith, eight days removed from combining for four interceptions, were a combined 16 of 21 with no turnovers.
It's tough to read too much into any sort of OTA performance, good or bad, especially considering Sanchez and Smith took plenty of snaps against the Jets' second-string defense. But with the so-called quarterback competition clearly down to Sanchez and Smith, any sort of positive momentum as training camp approaches is a good thing.
Both candidates said all the right things, with Sanchez expressing a renewed sense of confidence and declaring he expected to win the job and Smith deferring to the veteran and saying he just wanted to compete for the job.
"I plan on playing, I plan on starting," Sanchez said.
Of course, Sanchez put on a good public face at this time last year, when he was coming off a 26-turnover season and facing the specter of competing for playing time with Tim Tebow. And while Tebow never threatened Sanchez' status as a starter, he committed 26 turnovers for the second straight season and briefly lost his job to third-stringer Greg McElroy.
"I just feel comfortable," Sanchez said. "Accuracy-wise, I just feel great."
If his words prove hollow for a second straight year, Sanchez will surely lose his job to Smith, who is the future at quarterback, whether that happens in 2013 or 2014.
"That's not for me to decide," Smith said of the quarterback derby. "My job is to go out there and compete. Coach (Marty) Mornhinweg, coach (David) Lee, coach Rex (Ryan), they do all of that decision-making. I just go out there and work hard."
The quarterbacks also continued to say the politically correct things about helping each other, even if the reality is they are competing for one job and that Sanchez may be replaced by Smith, sooner rather than later.
Sanchez said he is trying to help Smith like Kellen Clemens -- who was nominally atop the depth chart when Sanchez arrived -- helped him as a rookie in 2009.
"The good thing about this football team is I see this team really helping each other and encouraging each other," Ryan said. "And I think that's a good thing.
"But at the end of the day, from a competitor's standpoint, yeah, you want to be the guy. You want to be the guy that gets the nod. And I don't think there's any doubt -- whether Geno said that or not -- I'm pretty sure he wants to win the job."
Meanwhile, farther down the depth chart, there apparently has been a quick fall from grace for McElroy.
The former seventh-round pick came off the bench to direct the Jets to the game-deciding touchdown in a 7-6 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 2 and started against the San Diego Chargers three weeks later. But he was sacked 11 times and was inactive for the season finale because of to a concussion.
Now, McElroy seems in danger of losing his job to a player who has yet to take a regular-season snap in the NFL. Matt Simms, the son of former Giants quarterback Phil Simms, took the third-team snaps in each of the OTA practices open to the media. Such an arrangement indicates McElroy may not make it to final cuts this summer with the Jets.
And what would a Jets day be without some fodder for quarterback controversy?