FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets should be flagged 5 yards for delay of name.
A coy Rex Ryan refused Tuesday to announce his starting quarterback for Thursday night's preseason finale against the Eagles, claiming, "We're not ready to tell you that. There's a lot that goes into that."
Wait, there's more: Ryan said there's "a possibility" he may not reveal his opening-day starter until game day, Sept. 8, against the Bucs.
From all indications, Matt Simms -- battling Greg McElroy for the No. 3 job -- will start Thursday night. Mark Sanchez (shoulder) has been ruled out and rookie Geno Smith is expected to get the night off. Smith could use the work, but the injury risk is a factor because he might have to start Week 1 if Sanchez isn't ready.
Ryan, usually tightlipped this season, declined to discuss the pros and cons of using Smith, who has played a total of only four quarters in the preseason.
"I'm not going to get into the downsides or the upsides or whatever," Ryan said. "I think, as a team, we'll look at where we are as a team and make those decisions then."
It's highly unusual for a team to withhold its quarterback choice for the final preseason game. What competitive advantage is there to gain? Eagles coach Chip Kelly, for instance, announced that backup Nick Foles will start. The Jets are being ridiculously paranoid. Unless there's a trade in the works that would affect the quarterback depth chart, there's no reason to hold off until Thursday.
Ryan has dragged out the so-called quarterback competition long enough, but he won't acknowledge the obvious, that Sanchez is No. 1. Maybe they think the stall tactic will have some sort of profound impact on the Bucs' preparation for the opener.
For Thursday night, the Jets may have only one quarterback -- Simms. McElroy, hampered by knee and ankle injuries, practiced Tuesday, but he's not a lock to play. Ryan he's hopeful that McElroy, injured the opener, can return. If not, it'll be the Simms show -- and he's put on a good one in the preseason. He's 11-for-15 for 193 yards and a touchdown, a 137.5 passer rating.