Training camp spotlight: Mark Sanchez vs Geno Smith

Barcs - July 22, 2013

With training camp less than a week away, there has been a good amount of chatter about the most important position on the team: The quarterback position. In this article I will compare the college careers of Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith and break down who has the edge in this battle.

Mark Sanchez has shown nothing but confidence in his ability to win the job and start in his 5th consecutive season with the Jets. If you ask Mark, it's like he's already won it. Geno Smith has also shown confidence, but has seemingly distanced himself from Sanchez. He chose not to attend Mark's annual "Jets West" chemistry building camp for the offense. When asked about his chance of winning the job, Smith said, "I feel like I have a great shot. I did a pretty good job overall of just adapting to the system and playbook and felt very comfortable with it by the end of OTAs"

Many fans and analysts would have you believe that Sanchez is the clear favorite in the race, but does Geno Smith have a chance? Let's take a look at both of their college careers.

When Mark came out of USC as a junior, he was a raw inexperienced talent. He had a decent junior year, playing in the west coast offense. In 366 attempts, he put up 3,207 yards with a 65% completion rate, along with 34 TDs and 10 INTS.  Geno's junior year of college he put up the same completion % in 526 attempts, 4,385 yards with 31 TDs and 7 INTs.  Clearly Geno was in a system that was pass heavy and he made the most of it. In Geno's senior year he was much improved, and had better stats than Sanchez in almost all categories.

When comparing the college careers of Sanchez and Geno Smith, Smith had 1,465 passing attempts while Sanchez had only 487. That's a difference of 978 snaps.  This makes Geno a much more experienced talent now than Sanchez was in 2009. Sanchez entered the draft after his junior year against advisement of his coach Pete Carroll, who felt the extra year of college experience would have been beneficial to him. He was selected 5th overall for the Jets.

Since being drafted, Sanchez has had 1,867 (+95 post season) snaps. So while Sanchez has had more experience overall, Geno Smith has had more pre-NFL experience and has had the better stats, but he has yet to take a snap in the NFL. Based on experience, Geno should have an easier time transitioning from college than Sanchez did. Sanchez was essentially thrown to the wolves in 2009 into a complex offensive system, and struggled with turnovers most of his career. He has also helped lead the team to 4 playoff wins during that time.

So don't count Geno Smith out just yet. Sanchez' playoff experience is valuable, but Geno has been the more complete college player and seemingly has a higher ceiling with more potential. It could really go either way, and with the Jets looking to reduce turnovers big time, Geno Smith might just get the nod in game 1.