QB Mark Sanchez (6) and RB LaDainian Tomlinson were Jets teammates in 2010 and 2011.(Photo: Mark Baer, USA TODAY Sports)
It doesn't require a genius to read the 72-point type between the proverbial lines and deduce that rookie Geno Smith will start at quarterback for the New York Jets on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than injured and consistently inconsistent Mark Sanchez.
But it takes a keener, more experienced eye to offer a true assessment of Sanchez's NFL future, or lack thereof.
"I don't think Mark will be a starter again in the NFL," retired running back LaDainian Tomlinson said Tuesday on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio.
"I think there's certainly potential for him to be a backup and then get a starting job for half the year or what have you that way. But I think his days as a full-time starter are pretty much over."
Tomlinson would know. He spent two years in the same backfield with Sanchez and watched him turn the ball over 26 times in 2011, LT's final NFL campaign. (Sanchez followed that up with 26 more giveaways in 2012.)
The record-setting tailback also knows what first-rate quarterback play looks like, spending the bulk of his career with the San Diego Chargers lined up behind Drew Brees and Philip Rivers.
Now that Sanchez has four middling pro seasons on tape - his better years came when he complemented a sterling Jets defense and ground game in 2009 and 2010 - it might be tough to convince anyone he's still worthy of possessing the keys to a franchise. After injuring his passing shoulder in preseason, it certainly seems an eventual divorce from the Jets is somewhere on the horizon with Smith, a second-round pick in April, now in the fold and apparently favored by new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Added Tomlinson: "You've got to realize in football, for a quarterback, you're going to get three to five years in an organization to prove that you're the franchise guy. I mean that's just what it is.
"And if you don't do it in that time frame, then they're going to move on to somebody else."
It sure appears as if the Jets are doing just that.