New York Jets – The Endless Quarterback Question

Give a big welcome to AJ Sicignano, our newest staff writer at Turn On The Jets. Make sure to give him a follow right here and leave a comment below on his debut article on the Jets quarterback situation.

Ah, the New York Jets quarterback situation, as if this hasn’t been a beaten topic for what seems like an eternity. We know the history. Right now, the situation is again neither pretty nor idealistic. Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick , Bryce Petty…they all rank in the bottom tier of the league at their position. Despite this, can one of the top two options win enough football games to have this team playing meaningful football come November and December?

It seems Jets fans are hoping for one of two scenarios, well really three but I don’t count the Bryce Petty turning into Tom Brady or Russell Wilson scenario as anything close to realistic. First,  Geno Smith turns a corner and progresses into a competent NFL QB or second, Ryan Fitzpatrick wins the job (AKA Geno loses the job) in camp, plays great game managing, mistake-free football to allow the talent around him to win.

Let’s start Fitzpatrick, the journeyman QB who has shown success in Chan Gailey’s offense in the past. Geno was “named” the starter but let’s say for the sake of argument he has a poor camp, doesn’t impress in preseason action and the staff isn’t convinced he’s the man to lead this team week one. There is a fair case to be made for Fitzpatrick as long as he’s completely healed and ready to go.

In 2014, he played in 12 games before suffering a season ending broken leg. He finished with a record of 6-6, 17 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and a completion percentage of 63%. If you are giving me this Jets defense and the stable of playmakers at WR and RB and getting that from the starting QB, it is hard to pass up on.

In his past three seasons Fitzpatrick has thrown for more touchdowns than interceptions every single season – something Geno hasn’t done in his two seasons as a pro. Additionally, his completion percentage is sitting at 61.9% over the past four seasons compared to Geno’s 57.5% career total. Fitzpatrick can minimize mistakes, manage a game and be accurate with the football. He is most likely the safer pick of the two but it’s also fair to say his ceiling is lower than Geno’s, especially from a playmaking perspective.

On to Geno Smith, what you’d really like to do is throw out everything you’ve seen from the past seasons since the team was led by an inept offensive minded head coach. Unfortunately you can’t do that. If a decision had to be made today on whether or not Smith could be successful in this league you’d be hard pressed to find someone to tell you that he can. It can be argued that the only reason Geno is seeing an opportunity is because a better option just isn’t out there.

Geno has shown he can play in this league. He has the athletic ability, can make all the throws and shown he can run an offense…at times. Todd Bowles and his staff should have what will be their first crucial decision to make this offseason when they’re watching Geno grasp the offense in training camp. What they need to determine is just how much of Geno’s performance falls on the previous regimes inability to produce an effective offense? How much benefit of the doubt do you give Geno considering the playmakers he had around him go by the name of David Nelson, Stephen Hill, Jeff Cumberland, Clyde Gates and Josh Cribbs?

The best decision is likely to go with Geno Smith week one. There are undoubtedly holes in his game but the QB friendly system Chan Gailey will be running should be helpful to Geno’s development and play. He will take a majority of the snaps from shotgun, where he is more comfortable and have more talent than ever around him to utilize. If Smith lays an egg,, then you fall back to the veteran Fitzpatrick before it is too late to salvage the season.

Check out Joe Caporoso’s film breakdown of Smith here