New York Jets: Who will step up at quarterback?


Nov 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws on the run against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Who will ultimately end up being the starting quarterback for the New York Jets has been the most talked about position going through this offseason. The rumors swirled through the free agency period, linking the Jets to just about all of the free agent QB’s. It didn’t end there either, with multiple trade scenarios being discussed among the fan base. To follow those discussions, were the expectations that the Jets might draft Marcus Mariota, some had him falling to the Jets at #6, while others had us trading up to get him.

As we all know by now, the Jets took an entirely different approach then most pundits were expecting. General manager Mike Maccagnan went out and traded a seventh round pick to acquire veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and then surprised some by taking Bryce Petty in the draft.  Post draft, the Jets then signed UDFA Jake Heaps out of BYU.

Who will truly step up at quarterback for the Jets? Let’s take a look at the main options the Jets have to realistically be their starting option as Heaps will most likely end up not making the team due to the other candidates at the position.

Next: The Real Competition

Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Jets quarterback

Geno Smith

(7) throws during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Real Competition

The current depth chart at quarterback is rather lackluster by many standards, but I am of the school of thinking that believes the Jets will only require “adequate” play to have a measure of success this season. Chan Gailey is known in league circles as a guy that can get the most out of his players. Which leads us to the competition.

Gailey will hold an open level fielded quarterback competition this summer. It will be a welcome addition to camp this summer as real competition was definitely missing during the Rex Ryan era. Gailey’s two top contenders for the starting job are Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick according to many pundits has the better odds of locking down the starting job. He is far more the experienced QB, and has played the position under Gailey back on their days with the  Buffalo Bills. Fitzpatrick may be the guy who can provide the play from the position the Jets require, at least short term. He may be the odds on favorite to win the job but rest assured he’ll have competition.

Smith enters this summer as the incumbent, the question is can he take a step forward and hold off Fitzpatrick? Smith is capable of winning this competition, but he’ll need to earn it. While this may be Smith’s job to lose, he will need to bring his best game to hold onto it. Smith has experience in a spread offense as well, prospering in it at the college level.

Next: Battle Of Third Stringers

Aug 28, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets quarterback

Matt Simms

(5) throws against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Battle Of Third Stringers

Now, most would say that Fitzpatrick and Smith will lead the headlines at the position this summer, but with the drafting of Bryce Petty and the signing of Jake Heap, its not done yet. Petty, Heap and Matt Simms will also get to strut their stuff this summer in hopes of winning a spot on the final roster. Petty brings a familiarity of playing in a spread offense himself and Heaps reportedly impressed during rookie mini camp. Simms has been around the Jet organization and may be fighting to stay in the picture this summer.

While what the Jets have done at QB may not be spectacular, I think they have set themselves up nicely going ahead. Competition will be intense for all the slots. Nobody is guaranteed anything and this promises to be a highly contested competition. Competition pushes players to excel in the grand scheme of things. The Jets need one of these players to step up and claim the job. The talent is here, the coaching staff is in place and shortly we’ll get to see some incredible competition.

Quarterback is clearly the critical key to success this year. The wide receiver corps promises to be much improved, the running game has its options, and tight end promises to be exciting as well.  With an upgrade in play along the offensive line, whichever candidate is under center will have their opportunities to win plenty of football games!

Next: Final Thoughts

Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty throws a pass during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Final Thoughts

Competition is going to be intense this summer. The best players will be given their shots based on performance. That is an ideal situation for any team, competition at all levels is what you truly want. The cream will need to rise to the top, one of these players needs to step up and claim their job.

It’s my opinion that Smith will be the guy come Week 1. With Fitzpatrick’s injury slowing him early, I think Smith will snatch the opportunity and run with it. It’s yet to be seen if he can run a pro offense effectively, but I believe Gailey can get enough out of him to move forward.

Fitzpatrick will need to get healthy and have a good camp to displace Smith in my opinion. Petty will likely displace Simms and Heap may very well land on the practice squad if he continues to impress.

Anything is possible this year. There may be others brought in during camp to compete but the Jets have competition and that’s a great thing for this team. Who is your favorite to start at quarterback for this upcoming season? How do you see the depth chart shaping up? We want to hear what you’re thinking! Join the discussion by leaving comments below!

Next: New York Jets: Breaking down top candidates to make roster

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