The Jets don't have any more full-squad practices before training camp gets underway in six weeks, and right now they're saying that the quarterback competition is a dead heat. On Thursday afternnon, Rex Ryan said that he's liked what he's seen from both Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez and that he anticipated a long hot battle this summer.
"I like the way both those quarterbacks, Clemens and Sanchez, are really battling. It’s going to be a great competition. I knew this was going to be a dog fight. Now you can tell it really is going to be a dog fight. We probably won’t know until…who knows, we’ll see. Whenever it becomes obvious to us, that’s when we’ll make that decision on who will be the guy. Obviously, you would prefer to have it sooner than later. I just don’t think that’s going to happen."
All the reports thus far have Clemens making better decisions and showing more poise than Sanchez right now, but they're also saying that Sanchez has a better arm and is better at making throws on the run. The gap in decision making and poise can close, but the physical one isn't going to turn in Clemens' favor all of a sudden. That means the competition isn't wide-open for much other than Sanchez to show enough that the team can start him.
That might not be fair, but the Jets didn't trade up for the fifth pick, guarantee $28 million and stake their future on Sanchez so that he could sit behind anyone. That's not to say he'll be the starter if he hasn't shown that he's ready to be the starter, but it does mean that the gap between him and Clemens is going to have to be enormous for the veteran to claim the job.
The pat answer is that the best man will win the job, but defining what that means isn't so easy. Sanchez is going to have growing pains, same as any rookie, but the Jets need him to have those growing pains and get them out of the way so that he can climb to the next level. He might not be "better" than Clemens on day one, but he may be the best man for the Jets all the same.