Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News
Mark Sanchez starts off on right foot, but late mistakes keep Jets quarterback spot wide open.
Mark Sanchez can’t stand prosperity. Hates it. Abhors it. Sees it and sprints the other way.
For 15 near-perfect minutes Saturday night, Sanchez appeared to be putting an end to the quarterback competition that his general manager doesn’t want him to win. He was confident, sharp and comfortable in the pocket.
Sanchez had practically lapped rookie Geno Smith, an innocent bystander who was inactive due to his gimpy ankle, with a pair of impressive scoring drives to open the Jets’ 37-13 preseason win over the Jaguars.
Sanchez was tantalizingly close to winning the starting job for the season opener against the Buccaneers on Sept. 8. Sure, there still may have been organizational shenanigans to give Smith another shot at the job next week against the Giants, but Sanchez was close to making it very difficult for (insert all the coaches, front-office types and scouts involved in the “collective” decision here) to deny him the job.
Sanchez seemingly seized control of the competition with a white-hot start. He looked like another guy out there.
Then, he looked like himself again.
Ryan admitted afterward that the competition will “absolutely” extend to the third preseason game because “right now, we’re not comfortable making that decision” to name a Week 1 starter. But would the Jets have continued the competition to next week if Sanchez played better against Jacksonville?
“It doesn’t matter if we would have or wouldn’t have at this point,” Ryan said.
It was a lost opportunity for the incumbent.
“I feel like with Geno not playing, this was going to go on until he got another shot, I’m sure,” Sanchez said.
The fu manchu-growing, headband-wearing quarterback with nine lives started off on fire. Sanchez completed all three of his passes to three different receivers on the opening drive, including a 23-yard touchdown to Jeff Cumberland to give the Jets a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game.
He helped the Jets get into the red zone on the next drive before Ryan’s team settled for a field goal after Stephen Hill’s third-down drop. Sanchez’s success was likely enough to give general manager John Idzik, who desperately wants Smith to win the job, indigestion.
Sanchez led the Jets to 17 points on three consecutive drives (dating back to the preseason opener). He completed his first five passes Saturday for 59 yards before becoming unhinged.
With the first-team offense for the rest of the first half, Sanchez went just 3-for-10 for 23 yards with a back-breaking interception in the end zone. After the two scoring drives, the Sanchez-led offense had a turnover, two consecutive three-and-outs and a sloppy half-ending drive that prompted boos from an otherwise lifeless crowd at MetLife Stadium.