Jets QB? Ryan insists it's a 'team decision'

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Rex Ryan isn't falling into the trap - yet.
The New York Jets' head coach known for brash talk and bold comments announced over the weekend that rookie Geno Smith would get an opportunity to work with the first team as he competes with veteran Mark Sanchez for the starting quarterback job. He also said he would be the one to deliver the news to the players when the decision is made.
But Ryan was quick to clarify that doesn't mean he's the sole voice when it comes to choosing who starts under center for the Jets in Week 1 of the regular season.
"I think you guys are making a mountain out of a mole hill," said Ryan. "I'll sit down and talk to the quarterbacks and ultimately that's who's telling the quarterback. So when the guys come in, they talk to me. I tell you guys who the quarterback is. But at no time is it a one-man show. It's always a team decision. That's the way it's always been. And whether it's been talking about a player, whether it's talking about the draft.
"(General manager) John (Idzik) turned the card in for the draft. There wasn't one coach or one scout that couldn't turn the card in. That's how much in tune that the team is and this organization is. The decision on who to play, at quarterback in particular? Absolutely that's going to be, it's always going to be a New York Jet decision and it's always been that way."
Sanchez opened the team's training camp working with the starters on Friday, but Ryan said Smith, a rookie second-round pick out of West Virginia, will get an opportunity to practice with the first team as well. Smith is also working on packages featuring the zone-read option featured by teams with mobile quarterbacks including Washington's Robert Griffin III, Carolina Cam Newton and Seattle's Russell Wilson.
"We'll have a method to the madness or whatever. He'll certainly get an opportunity to run with the ones," Ryan said over the weekend. "The way we split up routes, or reps, sometimes you'll see the ones versus the threes. Sometimes you'll learn a lot from the threes.
"If a guy's stepping up and he can compete against (the ones), you feel pretty good about it. Maybe he's not a three for long. Maybe you move guys up. But, they're just reps right now. Obviously, I think if it's a live scrimmage rep, I think that's probably a little different. But right now it's more of an introductory-type thing. Whether it's with the ones or the twos or whatever, both guys are going to be given equal reps with the ones and twos."
Sanchez said he hasn't been informed about who will make the final decision - or even how the competition will play out. But he said the communication with Idzik has been positive as Sanchez attempts to bounce back from consecutive subpar seasons.
"People say, 'Well that's just your career, when things go bad at work you come home,'" said Sanchez. "It's a little different. I bring my work home all the time. So, it's different that way, but it's all good. It's a part of being a competitor, it's a part of bouncing back when conditions are adverse and that's what we're doing now and I love the energy we have. We've really turned the page from last year, I think. I think we have a good group."
Smith said working with the first team gives him an opportunity to ramp up his learning curve against veterans who can disguise coverages. He is focused on getting comfortable taking snaps from under center after playing primarily out of the shotgun in college, and said he also has no idea who will ultimately decide who the starting quarterback is for Week 1.
"They're going to make the decision and that's in-house. The only thing I can do is to take care of what I can take control, which is manage every single rep I get on the field and make sure that I prepare myself for the classroom," said Smith. "That's what I try to do."
For his part, Ryan insists the media is looking for a division in decision making that doesn't exists and that he's in lock-step with Idzik as they enter their first season working together.
"It's so funny, there is no 'it's this side and that side.' It's not," said Ryan. "Our thought processes are so similar, John and I, we are side-by-side on almost (everything).
"It's not surprising when you consider our backgrounds. Both have coaching backgrounds, both grew up in that, we both see players the same way. It's so smooth. It's bad. You guys are trying to make it a situation that doesn't exist. I know I have complete support from John, from (owner) Woody (Johnson), from everybody in this organization. If it was taken a certain way, it shouldn't be."

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