We're talking about the New York Jets so just when the team seemed to finally settle its too-close-to-call quarterback battle something crazy had to happen.

Of course it might have helped had the head coach not tempted fate.

After rookie Geno Smith proved he wasn't ready to take the job -- by throwing three interceptions and stepping out of the end zone in a panic for a safety -- incumbent Mark Sanchez was inserted into Saturday night's preseason game against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter as the starter by default ... and promptly was injured.

With the quarterback situation seemingly settled why did the Jets risk Sanchez?

Why did head coach Rex Ryan play his possible starting quarterback in the fourth quarter in a meaningless preseason game -- lined up behind behind scrubs to boot?

He really had no answer for the kind of questionable move that could torpedo a season -- and get a coach fired.

"It was very unfortunate that Mark was injured" Ryan said. "When we had a chance to put Mark in I wanted to play Mark. It's my decision. We're going to compete (to win) and watch that (quarterback) competition.

"I understand being second-guessed when an injury happens but that's football."

No that's poor coaching.

After the game Ryan said he didn't know the severity of Sanchez's injury. And the Jets said Sanchez had left the stadium -- probably for an MRI -- with his clothes still hanging in his locker.

Sanchez was hit hard by Giants defensive lineman Marvin Austin and crumpled to the ground. Taken out of the game he tried to throw several passes on the sidelines before telling trainers he was unable to continue and he eventually walked off the field -- his throwing shoulder wrapped in ice -- for X-rays.

Even Austin fighting for a roster spot said he was surprised Sanchez was in the game a sitting duck for a hit from him at 6-2 312 pounds.