New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith a game against the New England Patriots Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013.
The Jets may be a frequent punch line in the New York sports world, but the team they share a stadium with is a much bigger joke this year.
The Giants, after two games, rank last in the National Football League in total rushing yards (73) and points allowed (77). Their quarterback, Eli Manning, has thrown a whopping seven interceptions.
With Big Blue massively underachieving, and Gang Green exceeding low expectations, the Jets are nevertheless dominating headlines with unnecessary drama. Yes, the Giants have earned some breathing room with 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl wins, but they've actually made once less playoff appearance than the Jets in the past few years.
Rookie Geno Smith’s first road start no doubt raised a few red flags: He completed less than half of his passes and turned the ball over multiple times.
For comparison’s sake, Manning struggled away from home in his rookie year as well. His second road start--a four-for-18 effort in which he had just 27 yards passing and two interceptions--was so horrendous that Giants coach Tom Coughlin benched him in the fourth quarter.
No one knows if Smith will have anywhere near the career Manning has had; it’s still far too early to tell.
That's not stopping the Jets from allowing damaging rumors about the quarterback situation to swirl.
To wit: Quarterback Mark Sanchez recently claimed he beat out Smith in a preseason competition for the starting job.
"There's no doubt," Sanchez said when asked if he won the competition. "It was a done deal."
Sanchez is out with an injured right shoulder and the earliest he can return is Week 11. Whether Sanchez felt the need to stake his claim as starter to clear the air or to placate his ego, the point remains moot. The job belongs to Smith for the moment, and if the rookie performs well over the next few weeks, Sanchez probably isn’t getting his job back.
Jets coach Rex Ryan had a chance to extinguish the fire and put an end to all the talk but he whiffed, instead claiming that they’re taking things on a week-by-week basis.
If Smith isn't the team's starter of choice, who is?
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that there’s support within the organization for backup Matt Simms. Simms, who made the team following a strong preseason, has never taken a regular season snap and performed so poorly while at the University of Tennessee that he lost his starting job.
Aside from the championships, the reason a team like the Giants is given the benefit of the doubt--even though there may be more cause for concern with the organization that there is with the Jets--is they at least give the appearance of being in control. Perception is reality, and when members of a franchise appear to be on the same page, more leeway is granted.
The Jets are viewed as a joke in the media and around the league, and that's not always a fair characterization. In this instance, though, the team has only themselves to blame.
Their former starter claims the job is still his, their current starter doesn’t have the full support of the head coach, and there is organizational support for an even more unproven option.
With friends like that, who needs enemies?