On the eve of a new football season, hope springs eternal for all 32 NFL teams. Even with the doom and gloom outlook projected by many NFL analysts and pundits, the New York Jets and newly hired general manager John Idzik are maintaining a positive attitude heading into the 2013 regular season.
"I thought we had a real productive training camp and great work throughout the entire time in Cortland and when we got back here (we) kind of switched gears a little bit and now we're into regular season mode and we're really excited about getting underway," said Idzik.
It's been a rollercoaster ride for the Jets this offseason, littered with coaching changes, a roster overhaul and front office wheelings and dealings, but taking center stage this summer was the quarterback battle between embattled veteran Mark Sanchez and rookie second round draft pick Geno Smith.
Just two weeks ago, it appeared Sanchez was on his way to cementing the starting gig after Smith tossed three first half interceptions against the New York Giants in the team's third preseason game. What transpired in the fourth quarter of that game is truly stranger than fiction. Rex Ryan elected to insert Sanchez into the game to make a statement to critics and fans alike that No. 6 is the man for the starting job, but the coaching move backfired.
Sanchez was slammed to the turf by defensive lineman Marvin Austin and landed on his right shoulder and was helped off the field by the Jets' training staff. A subsequent X-ray revealed no fracture to his shoulder joint and the team is classifying the injury as a shoulder bruise.
While the Jets have been tight-lipped regarding Sanchez's injury status; Smith has been named the starter for Sunday's season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Idzik is pleased with the progress of his young signal-caller.
"He's done a marvelous job preparing himself," noted Idzik. "He had a little hiccup with the ankle that slowed things down a little bit but he rebounded well and we think physically he's back," said Idzik. "He's been into it mentally all along. We're very comfortable with him."
As Smith prepares for his NFL debut, serious doubt has been cast on Sanchez's future in the league. Reports surfaced last week that the Jets could place No. 6 on injured reserved or ultimately cut him because his setback is more serious than the team is letting on. Idzik dispelled any notion that Gang Green is looking to part ways with Sanchez just yet.
"No, we're not looking at that," said Idzik of putting Sanchez on injured reserve. "We're looking at Mark continuing to rehab. We said it's day-to-day. It's very unpredictable sometimes. Mark knows his body better than anybody else. He's working very hard and so hopefully we'll get him back here soon."
Smith's uneven performance in the preseason raised some eyebrows across the league, but his general manager took special notice to the rookie's resiliency in the face of hard times.
Well, that was his first extended play in live NFL competition so he had ups and downs but I think the encouraging thing was that with the downs, he never let it affect him and that's an admirable quality for an NFL quarterback. We're going to have that. You're going to have plays, we play against pretty stiff competition in this league so you're going to have things not go your way and it's how you react to that and I thought Geno did a nice job of that