New York Jets – Geno Smith Named Starter…What Now?

Joe Caporoso on the New York Jets making Geno Smith their starting quarterback and where they go from here

The New York Jets made a fairly obvious decision today. They benched Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL through six weeks and have turned his job over to their backup quarterback, Geno Smith. Where does the team go from here? 

(Note, we aren’t doing a passing game breakdown this week. We’ll be back next week with a new edition).

Ryan Fitzpatrick: It was a good run in 2015 but Fitzpatrick proved himself to be the player we always knew he was. There is a reason not a single NFL team showed interest in him this offseason besides the Jets. There is reason the Jets could have paid him 4M all concentrated in a single year, instead of 12M with a 5M dollar cap hit coming next year. They were negotiating against nobody. This is an early stain on Mike Maccagnan’s generally strong resume and another example of this team giving into public pressure to make a decision.

This probably sounds extreme but the Jets should release Fitzpatrick. There is no reason to carry four quarterbacks. Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg need as much work as possible, even in practice. Fitzpatrick will not be here next year so why have him take up practice reps or looming on the bench? There is no logical reason to play him anymore or have him on this roster.

Last season was a fun run but the Jets saw the absolute ceiling of Fitzpatrick and it wasn’t good enough to reach the playoffs. At this point, it is impossible not be exhausted of both watching Fitzpatrick play and hearing the same routine of foolish excuses for him.

Geno Smith: One of the least popular players in this writer’s recent memory, both with fans and local media. Smith played poorly in 2013 and 2014, though not as poorly as we have seen from Fitzpatrick this season. He has superior arm talent and athleticism compared to Fitzpatrick and should theoretically help open up the Jets offense and take advantage of speedy young receivers like Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and Devin Smith.

We are yet to see any clear signs of progression from Smith, who has now had over a year to learn Chan Gailey’s offense. He has struggled to protect the football, shift away from his first read and with pocket presence since entering the league. Can he clean those issues up and jumpstart the league’s worst offense?

A logical Jets fan or follower would root for a strong performance from Smith to generate a run against the weaker part of the schedule, to give the Jets a young quarterback with potential to consider this offseason and because decent quarterback play will help the young receivers/tight ends develop. Smith is battling against an irrational hate in this market but is also walking into low expectations and an easy act to follow from a statistical standpoint in the 2016 season.

Bryce Petty: So many people seem to have forgotten that Petty was hurt in the Jets final preseason game and has not practiced fully in two months. He is nowhere near being ready to start. People also forget he is only 7 months younger than Smith and was drafted two rounds later for a reason. Petty has sort of become the Gary Johnson of Jets quarterbacks. Everybody loves him because he isn’t Fitzpatrick or Smith. For many his best attribute is that he never has played a meaningful snap.

He very well may get a chance this year and if Smith struggles, the Jets shouldn’t hesitate to see what they have, if anything, in Petty because it will help inform their decision making this offseason. There should be tempered expectations though, as Petty’s ceiling is likely a career backup. He has a big arm but struggles reading defenses and consistent mental errors. Ironically, he was a very similar player to Smith in college, just not as good.

Christian Hackenberg: The man frozen in carbonite like Han Solo! In this writer’s opinion, the Jets have zero interest in playing Hackenberg this year. If you play him the final few games and he struggles, they are buried in negative press for the pick all offseason. If they don’t play him, he remains a mystery that the team can say is still going through development and is the hope for the future. It would be probably be smarter to play him, see what they have and let that help inform their draft and free agent strategy but it would be surprising to see him under center at all this season.

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Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • joeisalwayswrong

    As usual Joe has the wrong analysis. Mike M was in a catch 22 situation. If he didn’t sign Fitz and the Jets go 1 and 5 with Smith at the helm, the outcry would be far worse. Clowns like Joe would be saying that Mike made a huge mistake not signing Fitz! The only job that Joe can do is Monday Morning QB!

  • Harold

    Good insight. Your site was one of the few playing it straight on Fitz. Showing both his flaws and strengths. Most of the media were simply highlighting his 31 TD’s and 15 Int’s. Ignoring his poor performance vs even slightly above average defenses. In addition most of his other number were poor as well YPA, Completion % etc.

  • BowlesOfMacc

    How far in your head is Joe if you made a name “joeisalwayswrong” and come onto his Jets blog to leave comments about him? He never had a blind love of Fitzpatrick and was open about not overpaying Fitzpatrick with his beers on the beach analogy. Therefore, he has every right to criticize the Jets for overpaying a bad journeyman QB who took the summer off and is now statistically and on film the worst QB in the NFL. Mike M needed to set the price lower and be willing to move on but he caved at the last minute so he deserves criticism. It’s really simple.

  • joeisalwayswrong

    You would be the same clown that would have come on here and criticized Mike for not signing Fitz if we were 1 and 5 with Geno at the helm. You can deny it all you want but that’s exactly what you would have done!

  • joeisalwayswrong

    If you look back at what Joe has written he was celebrating the Fitz signing as the only hope for this season. I love how writers change their tune to reflect a new reality!

  • joeisalwayswrong

    Lest we forget how Joe is always wrong, here is a reminder with links:

    (1) Fitz prediction: Ryan Fitzpatrick will start 14-16 games, finishing with a comparable
    number of yards and touchdowns as last year with a slightly lower
    completion percentage and 4-6 more turnovers.

    (2) Jets prediction: The New York Jets will go 4-2 in the AFC East, splitting with Buffalo and New England, while once again sweeping the Dolphins.

    (3) The Jets will go 3-3 during their rough 6 game stretch to open the season.

    (MORE) The Jets will beat Seattle at home in week 4.
    The Jets will be 5-3 at the half way point of the season.
    Darrelle Revis will lead the Jets in interceptions and finish 2nd team All-Pro.
    The Jets will mirror last season’s 10-6 record, except this time they
    will make the playoffs and win a wild card game before eventually having
    their season end in the divisional round.

    Here is the link for the above predictions:

  • joeisalwayswrong

    Lest we forget Joe’s prediction on Fitz in detail:

    Joe Caporoso
    – As a refresher Fitzpatrick’s stat line in 2015 was 59.6 completion
    percentage, 3,905 yards, 31 TDs, 15 INTs, 270 rushing yards, 2 rushing

    For this season, I think the completion percentage ticks up to
    slightly over 60, thanks to Matt Forte replacing Chris Ivory, hopefully a
    more healthy Bilal Powell, improvements from Quincy Enunwa and Jace
    Amaro out there instead of Jeff Cumberland. The touchdowns should hover
    around the same number due to above reasons but a potential slight
    regression to the mean in red zone efficiency. Yardage should also be
    relatively consistent as well. Interceptions feel likely to increase due
    to Fitzpatrick’s career track record and how many near picks he got
    away with last season. I don’t foresee a major change in either
    direction on his rushing totals, so let’s go with…

    60.1 completion percentage, 3,955 yards, 32 TDs, 22 INTs, 250 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD

    Here is the link:

  • William G

    I was never in favor of signing Fitzpatrick in the 1st place. He was never that good to begin with. He was mediocre in Buffalo and Rex Ryan had his number. I don’t think Geno Smith is the answer but this gives the Jets a chance to play Petty once Smith goes back to being Smith.

  • Keep the love coming all the way from Boulder, Colordado!

  • John C

    I don’t always agree with Joe, especially about QB, but I think most of us fell into the category of, “Well maybe the Fitz/Chan thing will work again, and if not, see what Geno brings to the table”. I think they should have gotten him into the fold sooner, but not overpay by any means. They could have set their price, and told Fitz, “You have 7 Days to accept, or we are announcing Geno as our starter”. So I don’t see any revisionist history there.

    Geno has better physical tools than Fitz, but his very brief chance, in a lost cause, concerned me. Yes, if he can work unmolested in the pocket, he will not under throw a 9 route, and he will deliver short throws accurately, but… his petulance, was still on full display, as he paced the sidelines, shaking his head that Fitz was still in the game (that is OK for us fans, but not for a teammate), but it could have been predicted, after his fumble unravelled him a bit, that one of his next throws would be a pick. I’ll be rooting/hoping, that Geno is actually capable of being our QB of the future, but I’m not sure that will be true.

    Bottom line, we are probably fortunate, in a twisted way, that we’ve played so poorly. It will allow this year, to be better used as an evaluation of the roster for next year, particularly at QB (do we even have one on our roster?), and linebacker, and corner. Out with the old, and in with the new. Last but not least, I do remember this site’s touting of Dak Prescott, as maybe the best prospect after Goff/Went, and a value after Round 2. No one is always right, and no one is always wrong, but Maccagnan is not looking too good at QB evaluations either!!

  • bambambigganose

    remember when you said the Giants signing DRC was a bad signing? Look at the contracts handed out to corners around the league. He’s on a bargain deal and would be the jets best CB.

  • markr

    We have 4 qbs on the roster, and I think it’s a safe bet that none of them are the long-term answer the Jets sorely need. If we get a top pick and there’s a qb that makes sense there, I say go for it (I don’t follow college fb closely so wouldn’t know…).

  • phshaw

    So the Jets have concluded the delusional part of their schedule (thinking they have a playoff team) and now will (hopefully) get on with the proper business of seeing what they have at QB beyond 2016 and developing their younger players also with an eye beyond 2016. It’s disappointing that Mac did not have the fortitude for this vision before the start of the season. The $12Mil on Fitz was a mistake on too many levels…and I sure hope Mac learns moving forward to ignore the media noise – most of whom were clamoring for the Jets to sign Fitz. I’m actually more alarmed by Bowles in this years nosedive. He has been outcoached far more often than not…in very glaring ways. That to me is a big red flag moving forward.

  • cornfed

    Great post, yeah the deluge of QB articles, polls, etc generated at lightning speed just shows you why the media wanted Fitz — more drama, more headlines, more circus. I don’t mind Bowles being cute with the media on a regular basis, but ONLY if he has something better up his sleeve, which we’ve all seen so far he hasn’t. We’re a mess on both side of the ball, no one saw this coming….At least with Rex w/his questionable game management, at least he could outcoach some of his peers and his D was pretty consistent 🙁

  • cornfed

    Bottom line, Mac needs a home run in the 2017 draft, and who knows when those results would materialize

  • glegly

    When you have 4 potential starting QBs, you don’t have ANY starting QBs. (That paraphrased bit of zen koan came from Parcells, I think). We’re hoping Petty or Hack can be like either Wentz or Dak (rhyming was unintentional, but kinda fits, no?), but who knows? BTW, I loved Dak at MSU, how he fell to the 4th blew my mind.

  • markr

    I think Petty will make for a decent #2. I have low expectations for Hack. Pretty crazy how bad our track record has been w drafting qbs since Pennington.