Jets coach Rex Ryan has informed Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens that Sanchez has won the starting quarterback job, FanHouse has confirmed. A source said Ryan gave the news to the two candidates this morning, as first reported by Jay Glazer on FOXSports.com. Ryan's daily press conference is scheduled for 2 PM ET, after the Jets practice today in Florham Park, N.J., and he's likely to make his decision public at that time.
The Jets traded up to select Sanchez with the No. 5 overall pick in this past April's draft. The former USC star has impressed veteran teammates since the start of minicamp with his work ethic and his on-field poise. He struggled Monday night in a preseason start against the tough Baltimore Ravens' defense, when his first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown and his second bounced off Ray Lewis' chest. But he recovered and threw a touchdown pass to Leon Washington later in the first half, and it now seems likely that Ryan had his mind made up before that game even happened.
Think about it. Nobody knows better than Ryan, the former Ravens defensive coordinator, how brutal the Baltimore defense is. It wouldn't make sense to subject a rookie quarterback to a start against the Ravens' first-team defense as part of your evaluation of his worthiness. Wouldn't be fair. It would, however, make sense to start him against Lewis and company if you'd already decided he was your guy and you wanted to give him a sense of just how tough life can be as a starting QB in the NFL.
Brett Favre and now has to wonder if he'll ever get another shot at it again. But while it's possible that this was a fixed fight all along (that Sanchez would have had to flop completely in order to not get the job), it's not as if Clemens did much to make the decision difficult. He is 9-for-14 for 84 yards, one touchdown and one interception in two preseason games. Sanchez is 6-for-12 for 131 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
As soon as Mark Sanchez was drafted, you had to figure Clemens was going to have to stand out head and shoulders above the rookie if he was to win the job. He did not, and now Sanchez is the man.