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.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com