The Jets quarterback competition hasn’t approached the fever pitch of last summer, but former Jets wideout Keyshawn Johnson’s not above stirring the pot, and said he thinks he sees which way it’s pointing.
The ESPN analyst told Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com that he thinks Geno Smith will eventually prevail over Mark Sanchez, primarily by virtue of being the new guy.
“Geno will add another dimension of attitude to the team,” Johnson said. “The players are probably more receptive to him than Mark. I would think the players like him more than Mark. They’ve been around Mark and they’re tired of Mark’s [crap]. That’s how players think. Geno Smith is the new wave. He’s hip, he’s cool. Mark is in a tough spot.”
Johnson was generally supportive of his fellow former USC Trojan, but thought he was overdrafted, and a run of early success set him up for the regression of the last two seasons.
“He was just OK in college. He wasn’t a home-run hitter. Then you put him in New York; that’s one of the worst things you could’ve done,” Johnson said. “Had you put him in Green Bay and let him sit like Aaron Rodgers for several years, maybe he could’ve ended up like Rodgers. He was thrown into the fire right away and made two playoff appearances, and now he feels like, ‘I’m the s—, nobody can tell me anything.’ They started losing and his confidence was shaken, and then he has [Tim] Tebow hovering over his shoulder.
“Now they draft Geno Smith after paying [Sanchez] a bunch of money. I get it, Geno Smith in the second round, he’s very talented. But I don’t know if they’ve put Mark in the best situations throughout his career. [In 2009], with that defense and that running game, they could’ve gone to the playoffs with Mark Brunell at quarterback. They got to the championship games running the ball all day and playing defense.
Johnson said if the Jets had signed a “Vinny Testaverde type” to start while Sanchez was eased into the NFL, “there would’ve been a better chance of him turning out like Rodgers.”
While it seems unlikely that Sanchez will ever reach that level, it’s also possible that Johnson’s analyzed the situation in the locker room accurately, and that Smith could end up with the job by virtue of simply being not-Sanchez.