Geno Smith is examined during the third quarter after injuring his right ankle.
DETROIT — Even the eerily calm John Idzik must have felt his heart skip and brow sweat as he saw his prized rookie quarterback, Geno Smith, limping off the field, heading toward the trainers. Smith’s first career NFL game, and he already was hurt.
Smith had taken an awkward fall, hurting his right ankle in the process, as he attempted to scramble for yardage in the third quarter of the Jets’ first preseason game — a 26-17 loss in Detroit against the Lions Friday night. Trainers looked at Smith as he sat on the bench, before he moved to the trainer’s table, where they continued to work on him. He stood and watched some of the action, but before long, the QB left for the locker room.
The rookie’s ankle injury adds a new wrinkle to the Jets’ quarterback competition, as any delay to his progress in the preseason could severely hinder his chances to take over the offense given his lack of experience in the league. The problem for Rex Ryan? Mark Sanchez committed the worst play of the night.
Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is surrounded by teammates after picking off Mark Sanchez for a 14-yard touchdown return.
It may be his fifth year in the league, but it was still the same ol’ Sanchez, committing a brutal, cringe-worthy interception and then stringing together a series of competence. He’s an enigma who has never been solved, and that will make it all the tougher for Ryan (and Idzik and Marty Mornhinweg and David Lee, because it’s a “collective decision”) to decide if they should stick with their hot-and-mostly-cold former first-rounder. It’s that, or switch to Smith.
It took only a minute and 29 seconds for the veteran in Gang Green’s quarterback competition to look like a rookie. On the Jets’ fourth play on offense, Sanchez faced early pressure from Lions defensive lineman Willie Young. Falling backward, the quarterback tried to throw a prayer to FB Tommy Bohanon but couldn’t even clear first-round pick Ziggy Ansah, who picked it off and returned it for a touchdown.
“They threw the back down as I was trying to throw it over to him,” Sanchez said. “The next thing I know, a defensive lineman jumps out and picks it off. (It was) not the ideal start but those things happen in the course of a game.”
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Mark Sanchez goes 10-13 for 125 yards with a TD and an interception.
At the time, it looked like Smith was ahead in the competition before he even stepped on the field. But Sanchez soon redeemed himself, putting together a scoring drive, going 5-for-5 for 76 yards and a touchdown pass to TE Jeff Cumberland.
Prior to Smith’s injury, his night had been entirely uneventful as he completed six of seven passes for 47 yards on four drives. The Jets managed just two first downs with Geno at the helm over the course of three-and-a-half drives.
Even after the brutal start, Sanchez finished with a decent statline: 10-13 for 125 yards with a TD and INT. That interception looms large, however, probably seared in the back of Ryan’s mind. The good news for Sanchez: as bad a mistake as that may have been, if Smith’s injury is at all serious, it won’t even matter.