TOJ Fan Friday – The Jets Geno vs. Fitz Question

TOJ Fan Friday: David Acosta on Geno Smith vs Ryan Fitzpatrick

On Fridays throughout the year we are going to publish an article from one of our fans/regular readers of the site. We want to hear from you and hopefully source a few new regular contributors. David Acosta submitted today with an article about the New York Jets quarterback situation, particularly Geno Smith vs Ryan Fitzpatrick. If you are interested in submitting an article for next Friday, send an e-mail along to JoeC@TurnOnTheJets.com!


The Geno Smith vs Ryan Fitzpatrick debate remains a relevant discussion as the New York Jets move forward in 2015. First, it involves the most important position on the team, thus making it relevant by default. Second, it signifies the type of on field personnel decisions this team will be making. Most importantly, the team is 3-1 with a very favorable schedule and a legitimate shot at being a contender come playoff time.

Neither Quarterback is an ideal product. They both have flaws that make it less than optimal to have them as the starting quarterback of a contending team. Like it or not, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starting Quarterback of a team that is 3-1. He needs to remain the starting QB until there is a significant shift in the momentum of this team, something none of us want to see. Where does that leave Geno Smith? It leaves him on the bench, where he should remain. However, if Smith is to display the requisite maturity and skills of a starting QB in the NFL, he should be learning from this experience as a backup. Specifically he should be learning from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Geno Smith never got the chance to absorb what it meant to be a starting QB in the NFL. There have been many cases of guys who learned on the job like Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Andrew Luck. For every one of them however, there is an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, and Phillip Rivers. These are guys who were not asked to start right away, and largely benefited from their time as backup quarterbacks. They got to absorb pro style offenses, get accustomed to the speed of the game at the next level, and most importantly learn what it was like to be a professional leader of a football team. This is where Geno Smith’s most important lesson needs to be.

Regardless of who you assign blame in the incident that landed Geno on the bench, Geno obviously played a role. Weather it was the incident on the plane his rookie season, his seemingly petulant response to dropping in the draft in 2013, missing a meeting on the road in San Diego, or his withdrawn demeanor on the bench when his game time performance didn’t go well, Smith always came off as immature. For all his warts as a quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick understands what it means to be a leader. He was asked to step in as the starter for the Jets at a very difficult and frankly embarrassing time, and he has responded admirably. He has led this group with confidence and poise. If Geno understands what leadership is, this should be rubbing off on him. Ryan has plenty of it to share.

Fitzpatrick currently ranks in the bottom of the league in many statistical categories for Quarterbacks. Yet, Geno Smith can learn from the body of work he is seeing. This season Fitzpatrick has made few costly mistakes with the football. This may be attributed to Chan Gailey and his offense, but Ryan still deserves praise for his decision making and execution. He is able to quickly diagnose what he sees pre-snap, and make decisive plays with the football. Geno was often slow to deliver the football, seeming uncertain with what he was seeing, which gave defenses the opportunity to dissect the play and adjust accordingly. Hopefully, watching Ryan, and learning in the simplified system of Chan Gailey will allow Geno to grow in this regard.

Typical of a young QB who struggles, Smith often displayed a lack of poise on the field. He would appear to sulk, and withdraw from his teammates instead of take his errors in stride and display a short memory. This impacts the overall confidence of a team. Fitzpatrick has thrown many interceptions this season, but he never appears to lose the confidence in himself or his team. This may seem small, but you always hear in game announcers and former players talk about it because it matters. It shows the type of belief Ryan has in himself, and what he knows he can accomplish. It also shows the rest of the team he is not worried, nor should they be.

Lastly, the area that Geno stands to learn the most from Ryan is how to manage a football game. For all the arm strength, and mobility that Geno has, he always found a way to make costly mistakes with the football at the wrong time. Many of Geno’s errors occurred in the beginnings of games causing the Jets to fall behind, with an offense that didn’t have the weaponry to catch up. The beauty of Ryan Fitzpatrick is not in the plays he makes, but in the plays he doesn’t make. It is not necessarily the big plays that Ryan makes, but the spots where his big plays come. While he has missed on several opportunities, his success in the red zone, and 2 minute drills have often been back breakers for the opposition. He has even shown some athleticism in getting out of the pocket.

Managing a game is not a bad thing. It is a great thing if that management leads to victories. Hopefully Geno understands this experience of not playing, is one of the best opportunities this coaching staff can offer him.

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 EVP of Content at Whistle Sports