If you’re not busy for the next couple weeks, there’s an excellent opportunity to get some exercise and play some football. And–who knows?–maybe land yourself a spot on an NFL roster.
You may recall that back in 1976, when Dick Vermeil was coaching the Eagles, he got Philadelphia an enormous windfall of good press by holding an open tryout for a spot on the team. (A bartender named Vince Papale won; they made a 2006 movie about it, Invincible, with Mark Wahlberg.)
Well, now the Jets are doing something similar. One day after releasing Tim Tebow — with no thanks, by the way, for the several million dollars in jersey and other merchandise sales –GM John Idzik announced what sounds like a tournament to determine who the Jets quarterback will be. On Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio, Idzik cheerfully told listeners that the Jets starting QB of the last four seasons, Mark Sanchez, “is in the competition,” which must have come as good news to Sanchez, who probably figured that about now he’d be making plans to play for Winnipeg.
“We fully expect it will help him get better,” Idzik said.
So that’s what Sanchez has needed for the last two years: not pass blocking or receivers who can hold on to the ball, just a little friendly competition with those who want his job.
Idzik went on to explain. “It’ll help David [Gerard] get better. It’ll help Greg [McElroy]. It’ll help Matt [Sims]. It’ll certainly help Geno [Smith].” And maybe it will help you, too, if you can throw a football, because chances are you can do it as well as some of the guys on that list.
As for Geno Smith — who was probably holding his breath hoping that he wouldn’t be drafted by the Jets — it’s a safe bet that he can now be regarded as Idzik’s pick for franchise QB and that the first time Sanchez falters in September, Smith will get the ball. No, make that the second time; Idzik won’t want to toss his boy into a lion’s den so early in the season. The Jets will be going nowhere next year, and the coaching staff and front office will want to ease smith into the lineup rather than have him take the blame what looks like an inevitable disaster.
That is, if Sanchez is there at all. There are other teams that would probably be willing to give Sanchez a shot — after all, in 2009, his rookie season, and in 2010, he had the Jets within one game of the Super Bowl. And what are the odds that Geno Smith is going to equal that performance? If the Jets aren’t eager to deal Sanchez, it’s because they will most certainly have to what most of his contract anyway. (His base salary is $8.2 million for 2013.)
Sanchez’s presence in a Jets uniform on opening day also assumes that some walk-on–you, maybe–haven’t entered and won this quarterback competition.