NY Jets: The impact Geno Smith has for the future of franchise


Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) drops back to pass against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Geno Smith has been a hot topic as his future or possible lack-thereof with the NY Jets will have a tremendous impact on the franchise

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the current starter for the NY Jets, as we all know he was handed the job after last year’s starter, Geno Smith, broke his jaw in a locker room brawl during the preseason. It was an unfortunate development for the Jet franchise, but they moved on quickly and made the decision to name Fitzpatrick the starter.

Fitzpatrick has responded fairly well, leading the Jets to a 4-2 record and second place in the AFC East. Despite his success there is still a portion of the fan base that would like to see him replaced by Smith. Of course, there is the other segment of the Jet fan base that would be happy to never see Smith under center again.

The debate has continued throughout the season among the fans. Differences of opinions concerning the polarizing young signal caller can be found daily on Twitter and other social media outlets across the internet. In recent days, notably after last week’s loss to the New England Patriots, the fan base has once again begun to debate Smith’s future with the Jets. Some have suggested the Jets trade him now. Others don’t care about value and would be happy to see him cut.

Rumors have made their rounds through the fan base, and it started me to think in earnest about Smith’s future with the franchise. I’m going to throw my opinion in the ring concerning Smith. I am writing under the assumption that Fitzpatrick remains healthy and continues to win, leaving Smith to warm the bench this season. If Smith plays this season, all bets are off and the situation would need to be reevaluated.

Next: 3. His career so far

Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) fumbles the ball and recovers it against the Denver Broncos during the third quarter of their NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. The Broncos defeated the Jets 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

3. His career so far

Smith was taken in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played his college ball at West Virginia, playing the quarterback position in a spread offense. After arriving in New York, he spent his rookie camp competing with embattled Jet quarterback Mark Sanchez. By most accounts, Sanchez had beaten out the young quarterback in camp and the following preseason games.

It was apparent to even the most novice observer that Smith was not ready to play in the NFL in 2013. As fate would have it, Mark Sanchez got hurt in the final preseason game against the New York Giants. Rex Ryan had few options but to start the young signal caller.

Not NFL ready, Smith was forced into action. The results as we all know were dismal. Starting as a rookie quarterback is never an easy task, but the fact that Smith played in a college “spread offense” made the transition that much more difficult. Trying to learn the system on the fly and having very few options in the passing game, Smith’s rookie season was a train wreck at times, but he did manage to flash some talent. For 2013, Smiths’s stats say it all; 247 completions on 443 attempts, 3,046 yards, a 6.8 yd average, 12 touchdown and 21 interceptions.  The Jets finished his rookie season 8-8.

For comparison purposes, Sanchez’s rookie season resulted in 196 completions on 364 attempts, 2,444 yards, 6.7 yd, average, 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Need more? Joe Namath‘s inaugural season with the Jets produced: 164 completions on 340 attempts, 2,220 yards, a 6.5 yard average, 18 touchdowns and 15 interception.

Browning Nagle‘s first full year produced: 192 completions on 387 attempts, 2,280 yards, a 5.8 yard average, 7 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Peyton Manning‘s initial campaign resulted in 326 completions on 575 attempts, 3,739 yards, a 6.50 yard average, 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Ken O’brien’s first full year: 297 completions on 488 attempts, 3,888 yards, a 8.0 yard average, 25 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. A quarterback’s initial year can be an unfriendly place in the NFL.

Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) warms up prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Smith returned for his second year with Jets last year and played well through camp and preseason, Jet fans were excited to see the young quarterback’s development in year two. Unfortunately for the Jets and their fans, Smith digressed and the rest of the Jets went with him. The Jets’ offensive line was horrendous in protecting Smith last season, they added Eric Decker to Smith’s arsenal of weapons, but still ran a sub-par set of receivers out onto the football field weekly.

The Jets’ secondary was abysmal and the Jets went 4-12. The cries began early in the season for Smith to be benched, the boos echoed down on him in home games and by season’s end many in the fan base had already labeled Smith a bust. For the season, Smith’s stats looked like this: 219 completions on 367 attempts, 2,525 yards, a 6.88 yard average, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

This year, head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey announced their support for Smith as the starter for the 2015. News early out of camp came to Jet fans that Smith would be the starter again this season. Bowles was quoted as saying that “The job is Smith’s to lose.” Many fans were angry at the lack of a quarterback competition once again at training camp. Smith responded however, showing signs of development this spring as he received the bulk on snaps through camp and throughout the preseason. Many believed if there had been a competition this summer, Smith had easily won the job.

We all know how it went from there, scheduled to be the starter on opening day, Smith had his jaw broken over a dispute concerning a measly $600 dollars in the locker room. Fitzpatrick stepped up, and has won 4 of 6 for the Jets. Smith was activated in late September, but has not seen the football field in a regular season game this year.

Next: 2. What needs to happen with Smith

May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

2. What needs to happen with Smith

In reality, the Jets have a young signal caller that they truly know little about. Forced to start too early in his career, and saddled with two poor football teams that lacked weapons for him to utilize, Smith finds himself relegated to the bench for the foreseeable future. He’s only 25 years old and a two-year starter in the NFL. Hardly enough time to fully evaluate a young quarterback that is struggling to transition to a pro-offense.

The biggest debate ongoing among Jet fans is what they should do next season at quarterback. Fitzpatrick’s contract is for $3.25 million and expires at the end of this season, making him an unrestricted free agent. Smith’s contract expires at the end of the 2015 season and he is scheduled to be paid a base salary $675,000 next season.

Bryce Petty was drafted this year and his contract is for four years and he’s scheduled to make a base salary of $525,ooo next season. I don’t think anyone would argue, but in my opinion they are all affordable options for 2016. Here’s my take on what the Jets should do next year at quarterback.

Bring Fitzpatrick back for 2016 on a one-year deal if he’s willing. Fitzpatrick is at the tail end of his career. He should be able to re-signed short term and at a reasonable rate. He brings NFL experience to the table and could help mentor the young signal callers next season. Even if he were to beat out in camp, his experience is still valuable in a back up role. Fitzpatrick has played the back up role many times in his career, and he has shown he can win games coming off the bench in relief. For the right price, it’s worth the Jets looking into bringing him back.

Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) celebrates a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Bring Smith back and let him play out his rookie contract. Smith has been erratic in his first two years, and many fans would like to see him gone at season’s end. From my perspective however, he’s young and cost next to nothing to have on the roster. In reality, he’s only played in two seasons and often the third season is a charm for young quarterbacks. The Jets could try to move him in the off-season, but it would likely be hard to find a willing trade partner.

Even if they were able to move him, I think he holds more value on the roster than you’ll get for him in a trade. Bring him back and make him compete, the Jets can walk away at the end of next season with no regrets and another chance to evaluate him.

Petty looked fairly good over the summer and the Jets’ coaching staff has praised his development. He’ll be back next year and hopefully he’ll be ready to compete. Petty is a no-brainer as he’s young, costs the team virtually nothing and he’s shown a work ethic that has allowed him to develop his game. Petty should get a shot at the starter’s job next year if he continues to develop. A trip to visit Chad Pennington in the off-season might be advisable for the young quarterback.

Next: 1. Quarterback needs for 2016

May 8, 2015; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) passes in front of quarterback Jake Heaps (3) and quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo (left) during rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

1. Quarterback needs for 2016

Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get a bunch of different answers as to what the Jets need in a quarterback in 2016. Some will say they need to draft someone to replace Fitzpatrick. Others believe they will make a trade for one, or possibly find one in free agency. I’m not too sure the Jets will be or even need to be looking for a quarterback next season.

If they get Fitzpatrick to come back, they automatically get a quality back up. If he can win the competition, fine you have a starting quarterback. Minimum investment with very little downside. Petty comes back and with any luck at all, is ready to step up and join the competition.

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If he’s ready to compete, the Jets get a bonus, little cost to get, affordable to keep, young and he has potential. Smith comes back to compete with the other two. While that may not be popular with Jet fans, it does make sense. Again, his salary isn’t formidable to keep him and with development he is worth another look. Smith makes sense to bring back.

I personally would like the Jets to try and convince Pennington to coach the quarterback corps in 2016. I have nothing against our current quarterback’s coach, but I believe Pennington is a better option. Pennington is currently coaching middle school football in Kentucky. He showed no interest in this job last year but might be persuaded by the organization he played for.

Pennington could bring around Petty or Smith I believe, he can teach the basics and mentor the young guys into the season. A combination of Fitzpatrick and Pennington mentoring these young men would have a huge impact in my thinking. In my view, it is an idea worth pursuing. Pennington is a class act and has dealt with the quarterback spotlight before. Let’s give it a try, Mr. Bowles.

The Jets’ quarterback situation this year is clearly better than it was in 2014. With the right moves and some development from our young guys, it could be strides ahead of where it is in 2015. Allow the best man to win the competition next summer, no incumbent guarantees, draft status aside, the best guy wins the job! Let all three compete through OTA’s and mini camps, whittle it down to the top two, and let them battle it out in camp.

Of course, this is just my take, I believe it will work, but thankfully I am not the general manager of the Jets. Mike Maccagnan in conjuncture with his coaching staff will need to make the call. From what I’ve seen from this new group, I have confidence they will make the right moves. Time will tell of course.

Next: Stevan Ridley could be hidden gem

So how do you handle the Jets’ quarterback position next season? Do you believe the Jets should bring back Smith? Does Petty have what it takes to become a starter in the NFL? We here at The Jet Press value your opinions. Please leave us a comment below and help Let’s Talk Jet Football!!