The quarterback situation of the New York Jets once again continues to make major headlines. Not too long ago, I wrote about the polarizing figure that was Geno Smith to the fan base. Here we are today, just a few weeks later and just before the first preseason game and Smith is out 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw.
Apparently a dispute over $600 paid by IK Enemkpali to fly Smith to a football camp for kids, which he did not attend because of a death of a friend, resulted in Smith being “sucker punched.” It’s hard to explain how infuriating a situation this is for myself, fellow fans and the Jets.
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Smith was our starting guy, and as I mentioned before, many were divided on his position at the top of the depth chart. Those clamoring for Ryan Fitzpatrick to win the job have had their prayers answered, albeit in disturbing fashion.
What I can’t stand to see, and what’s bewildering, is the amount of joy coming out of a significant chunk of the Jets’ fan base. The anti-Smith chorus has been loud, especially during the Green & White practice where fans rained “boooooooo’s” down on the young QB. Frankly, I’m ashamed. It’s understandable not to be excited about Smith, even though I’ll admit I’ve been sipping the Smith Kool-Aid as of late.
He hasn’t proven much other than an improvement in interception totals over his first two seasons. But with the addition of Brandon Marshall as the No. 1 receiver and Eric Decker falling back to his usual and comfortable #2 spot, I was expecting a major improvement for Smith. Booing him during a practice? C’mon!
Smith has also received a lot of flak for laughing off his critics, especially after being ranked the worst QB in the NFL by ESPN for a second consecutive season. Just last Friday, I was listening to ESPN Radio in the morning as Smith was criticized and given suggestions as to what he should say in response. Seriously?
If he wants to laugh it off and that’s his way of moving forward, so be it. Sports radio hosts should stay in their lane and quit telling players what they should say or what they want to hear. Do you know how boring sports would be if every answer was the cookie cutter response these hosts keep insisting on hearing?
Now I’m not completely against Fitzpatrick starting, we know what we can expect from him. He’s a slightly, ever so slightly, above average QB who posted his best statistical season just last year before breaking his leg. And that’s the wrench in the whole issue. He hasn’t looked very good at all so far in camp, so looking forward I’m skeptical.
Don’t even get me started on Bryce Petty. Kid is fresh out of a Baylor system completely different from an NFL offense. Second coming of Tom Brady? Save it. Not buying it. Sure, he was great in college, but tell me how the last Baylor product turned out…I’ll wait.
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles watches organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach Todd Bowles has made it clear that now this is Fitzpatrick’s job to lose by saying he won’t guarantee the position for Smith when he returns. If Fitzpatrick gives us more of the same run of the mill, slightly above average stuff, I’m not vouching for his remaining at starter. Even if the Jets are miraculously 4-0 when Smith gets back, with the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins in that mix I’ll be shocked if it’s the offense that wins those games.
Smith needs to be tested and I stick by having him as the starter even if the Jets do well. Fitzpatrick will have to rekindle the 2014 flame he had before the injury and then some to keep the job. Now it would be ludicrous to change the QB of a 3-1 or 4-0 team should the Jets get there, and I guess I wouldn’t want to mess with the mojo in that case.
But a 2-2 start or worse? I’m giving Smith the ball in Week 6 at home vs. the Washington Redskins should he recover by then.