The official word was handed down Wednesday: Mark Sanchez will be the starting quarterback for the New York Jets to start the 2009 season.
The unofficial word: Hopefully he will also be the starting quarterback for many additional years to come.
Rex Ryan gave a fair shake to the "incumbent", Kellen Clemens, whose only claim to the job, really, was having already been on the Jets' roster. Ryan declared the position open to a competition, may the best man win.
Trouble was, no one was best...the numbers this pre-season were pretty equal. And that's bad news for a veteran versus a rookie, because if the rookie can do what the veteran can do, why not go with the rookie...in this case the number five overall pick in the draft.
And in reality, the way the competition turned out is the way it should have gone anyway, because Kellen Clemens has not given any indication that he is capable of leading a franchise. That's why the Jets drafted Mark Sanchez, and now that the "Who's the starter?" discussion is settled it's time to get down to the business of football, and see if Sanchez is the guy capable of leading a franchise.
I have nothing against Clemens. Really, I don't. Unfortunately for him, he was caught in the wrong place, wrong time with the Chad Pennington's situation, when I felt that Pennington did not get a fair shake from the Jets. So I hold Clemens up to a standard that he is not capable of reaching. Now Sanchez has his own standard to uphold.
It's very exciting to follow a guy from the beginning of his career, especially at a position like quarterback. I was shocked to learn that the only other time a rookie quarterback started a season for the Jets was their first year of existence, in 1960.
What's fair to expect from Sanchez? I think it's unfair to make comparisons to Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan and expect a playoff appearance right off the bat. Certainly it's possible in the NFL, where anything can happen any year, but I think it's more realistic to expect Sanchez to keep the Jets in games, and lead them to more of an 8-8 record than a 3-13.
Other than that, it'll be exciting to watch this career get started on the field instead of on the sideline and to see what the Jets have for the future. And it will certainly be more exciting than watching Kellen Clemens quarterback the team.