Sanchez and Smith (24290)

Is Geno Smith refusing to join Mark Sanchez at his camp in California really a sign of disrespect or a rookie wanting to win the starting quarterback job? The fact is, many people thought Sanchez wouldn’t even be on the team at this point, but David Garrard’s abrupt departure from the team forced the Jets to change their plans.

Smith isn’t a rookie who is just happy to be in the NFL. Smith is a man who wants to be named the Jets’ starting quarterback on opening day. Smith is a man who wants to have the kind of impact Russell Wilson, Robert Griffith III and Andrew Luck had. Apparently, Smith doesn’t believe working side-by-side with Sanchez will help him achieve his goals.

Is he correct in that assessment? Considering the miserable season Sanchez had in 2012, Smith might be right. Sanchez not only lost his feel for the game, but he lost his confidence and, at times, looked visibly defeated with Tim Tebow looking over his shoulder. Some will argue that Smith can’t learn much from a player like Sanchez, who clearly proved last season that he lost whatever mental strength he had.

That notwithstanding, Smith’s decision not to attend the camp wouldn’t have made as many waves if he hadn’t initially told reporters that he planned on attending.

“Mark hasn’t officially extended the hand to me, but I’m pretty sure there’s no problem there,” Smith told reporters during Jets minicamp in June. “I’m more than willing to go there.”

Reversing course without an explanation certainly caused some ripples in media circles and might have also turned some teammates against Smith. Smith’s apparent focus on winning the starting job notwithstanding, he and Sanchez are still teammates. And whether he likes it or not, the two are going to be working together. They’ll probably never be buddy-buddy, but their showing respect toward one another will help keep the locker room together.