Rex Ryan confirmed in a conference call with reporters this afternoon that Mark Sanchez will get the start at quarterback in the Jets' preseason home opener against Jacksonville on Saturday night and will play the first half.
The Jets head coach also said it hasn't been determined if rookie QB Geno Smith, in the competition with Sanchez to be named the team's regular-season starter, will be able to play against the Jaguars or not.
Ryan's decision, he said, was based on "a few factors: Geno's situation with his ankle, and also the fact that Mark has practiced well, and that's really what led us to our decision. Right now I can't tell you if Geno will play in this game or not. We'll see how the rest of the week goes to make that decision."
Even though Sanchez will be making his second preseason start, Ryan would not say that means that Smith will be in line to start next Saturday night at the Giants or that Sanchez has taken the lead in the competition.
"We'll look at that," he said of the possible rotation for the Giants game. "We're not going to get into the what-ifs. We'll address that at the appropriate time."
Similarly, he said, "Every day is a part of the competition. This competition is not complete. When it is, when we feel we've had enough information, we'll make our decision. We're not going to get into who's ahead, who's not. I'll say right now the competition's not complete. There's still time to make that decision."
Ryan, who labeled Smith's performance at Wednesday's practice "brutal" and "a bad day" when the rookie threw "four or five interceptions," didn't feel he was coming down too hard on a rookie quarterback who was operating on a sore ankle he got in the Detroit game five days earlier and didn't feel that Smith shouldn't have practiced.
"You have to realize we're installing, still in the install phase, putting in a brand new offensive system," the coach said. "Obviously with any quarterback, especially a young quarterback, we felt he would definitely benefit from getting those reps. Obviously the trainers were comfortable with him being out there.
"I just said the truth. It was a brutal day. Every player has those days. That's the reality of it. Now has he had some phenomenal days? He absolutely has. It was a poor practice. That fact that I said it, I never sugarcoated it, I said the truth."
Ryan's and the Jets' QB rotation could take a further hit regarding the availability of Greg McElroy, who aggravated a sore ankle of his own at the Wednesday practice.
"We'll see the comfort level our trainers have with that," he said. "We'll just play it by ear. Obviously, Greg's been out there and he's done a tremendous job on scout teams and going through drills. Our trainers and doctors, on any players we have an injury issue with, we'll lean on them." Ryan said none of the Jets' injured players have been ruled out of the Jaguars game.