By Sam Gardner, FOXSports.com
Geno Smith already has the makings of a fan favorite with the New York Jets — if only because he’s not Mark Sanchez — but the rookie QB is going to have to do a little more to win over one former Jet who knows a thing or two about quarterbacking under the bright lights of New York.
In fact, Joe Namath has gone as far as to say he doesn’t think the Jets should have selected Smith with the 39th overall pick at all, and that they had other holes in the roster that warranted more immediate attention.
“I don’t think they needed a quarterback,” Namath said Tuesday at a United Way gala in New York, according to the New York Daily News. “They needed the other positions filled. Possibly offensive line. They got some defensive line. The safeties are still questionable. The outside linebackers are still questionable.”
Namath also said that his former team already has a capable quarterback in Sanchez, who was almost universally criticized for his poor play throughout the Jets’ 6-10 rolllercoaster in 2012.
“I am pulling for him,” Namath said of Sanchez. “I know that he can do better than he’s done. And we saw him lead a team to two AFC championship games, right? I also know what it’s like not to necessarily have the weapons you’d like to have, not to necessarily have the time you’d like to accomplish.”
It’s not the first time the Hall of Famer Namath has come to Sanchez’s defense. Last year at the same United Way event, Namath defended Sanchez after the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, calling himself a “big Mark Sanchez fan” and describing the former USC quarterback as “sensational.”
Apparently those feelings haven’t changed just yet for Broadway Joe, and this year, Namath says he expects a turnaround from the Jets’ beleaguered quarterback.
“I know it’s a team game and I know Sanchez is going to play better,” Namath told the New York Daily News. “I promise you you’ll see a different guy (this year). I believe you’ll see a different guy.
“Mark’s not a puppy anymore. He’s gone through some things, growing process. As far as Sanchez goes, even if he’s not with the Jets, he’s going to play as long as he wants to. He’s that good. As long as he wants to, he’s going to be in the NFL.”
We’ll be sure to check back with Namath again at next year’s United Way gala to see if 2013 has changed his mind. It’s widely believed that Sanchez will be released after this season.
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