If it had been Blane Gabbert, nobody would care.
Instead, it's Mark Sanchez who's down after a bizarre sequence of events, which means it's front page news. Never before has a training camp QB battle between two nonentities - the misfiring Sanchez, whose skills and poise have eroded under four years of Rex Ryan's "coaching" and inferior offensive lines, and the clearly not-ready-for-prime-time Geno Smith, whose main back-of-box feature at this point is that he's not Sanchez - been so endlessly dragged out in the public eye.
But hey, it's the Jets, with their whackadoodle dancing bear of a coach. He always makes good TV, and his team is based in New York, and so there you go: 24/7 Sanchez/Smithwatch, to the point where something breaks.
What broke in this instance was Sanchez. Late in this week's meaningless preseason game, after it had been made abundantly clear that Smith was not only not ready for prime time but also not ready for a slot on the History Channel after a rebroadcast of the Ancient Aliens episode about how sasquatches were genetically engineered by aliens to mine gold but escaped through a tunnel to the Pacific northwest, Sanchez suddenly and surprisingly got put in the game. He didn't have adequate time to warm up, he didn't have any inkling he was going in, and he didn't have anyone in front of him on the offensive line who could block lettering, let alone an angry defensive lineman desperate to impress his coaches and earn a job.
Which meant, naturally, that Sanchez got pancaked, and Ryan got roasted. At last check, Sanchez - who pretty clearly had to be the Jets' starting QB - had a "shoulder injury" of indeterminate severity, which is generally code for "we duct taped his arm back on". Officially he's "day to day", but any observer of Jetsology will trust injury reports coming out of Green & White HQ the same way they'll trust David Icke on matters of herpetology.
And as a result, Ryan's getting killed in the media. He got killed at his post-game press conference. He's getting killed by the New York media. He's getting killed on ESPN. And if it was indeed his idea to put Sanchez in there late in the game behind second stringers, well, he deserves to be the mystery ingredient on BBQ Pitmasters. Even if it wasn't his idea, if it was offensive coordinator Marty Morninhweg's concept, he's the head coach and should be able to put a stop to that nonsense.
The question being, of course, whether it actually was his idea. His weird denial in the post-game press conference - "It was a coaching decision" - is a classic non-answer. It doesn't sound like he's accepting responsibility. It doesn't sound like he's throwing Morninhweg under the bus.
It does, however, sound a lot like he's throwing himself on his sword for the sake of his bosses. Imagine this: Late in a preseason game where the Jets look awful. Ownership, which has previously showing inclination to meddle mendaciously in quarterback issues (see also: Woody Johnson claiming he was forced to trade for Tim Tebow) sees that the fans are getting restless with Geno Smith's abysmal performance. They think they'd better show the fans something positive at QB, and surely, 4 year vet Mark Sanchez can do something against the backups. They call down to the sideline to tell Rex to get Sanchez in there. Rex, who had been warming up 4th stringer Matt Simms for mop-up duty, knows his job security is hanging by a thread, or possibly a licorice red vine. He does what his boss tells him: gets Sanchez up, throws him out there, and, when it all comes a-cropper, taking the hit in order to keep his job.
There is, of course, no evidence for this. It is entirely possible that, based on Rex's track record, he thought it was an absolutely great idea to send an unready Mark Sanchez out there behind an o-line made of duct tape and optimistic thoughts in a meaningless preseason game. But this sort of blatant stupidity seems beyond the pale even for Rex, and Marty M's been around the block more than enough times to know that it would have been a bad idea.
"It was a coaching decision". If only we could be sure it was.
[edited to identify the correct Simms]