In 2015, the New York Jets launched a potent and record-breaking offense. This time around, quarterback Geno Smith will break another franchise record in all-time passing yards.
Yes, right off the bat, this is a bold statement, I know. But stay with me on this. As long as the New York Jets continue to hire defensive-minded head coaches, it seems hard to believe that they will be known as a great offensive team. However, the Jets find themselves on the verge of a contradiction.
Last year, the Jets surprised many – analysts and arm-chair quarterbacks alike – with regular potency on offense that hasn’t been seen in awhile, more specifically in the passing game. Yielding two 1,000 yard + receivers and a 1,000+ rusher, they found themselves for the first time in a long time balanced on the edge of a coin: a stud defense and a potent offense.
Many believed that the Jets would struggle on the offensive side of the football, as they have for many years, and many had no hope for Geno Smith or consummate journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. Many thought Brandon Marshall would fade and that Eric Decker would not even achieve 800 yards, let alone 1,000.
Then, IK Enemkpali happened. More specifically, his altercation with Smith that broke his jaw. A couple of fractures and a ton of media coverage later, Fitzpatrick grabs hold of the reins behind center and did not relinquish the rest of the year. Even now, he is still considered to be the presumptive starter, regardless of whether or not he is under contract.
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And, why not?
Setting the franchise record for passing touchdowns and throwing for the second most passing yards in franchise history, Fitzpatrick looked like the savior that Jets fans have been waiting for since Joe Namath.
It was exciting to get Fitzpatrick last year, and hopefully he comes back this year and the year after that, but not to the tune of $14M. Especially for a 33-year-old quarterback whose best years are behind him.
Let’s not get anything confused here. Fitzpatrick is not the future of the Jets, nor is he the hero of this story. The hero is the one and only, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
With unremarkable head coaching stops in Dallas and Buffalo, there wasn’t much excitement or expectations for Gailey as the Jets’ offensive coordinator, especially since he was coming out of quasi-retirement. Those assumptions were put to rest rather quickly.
It’s well-known that Gailey likes to tailor the offense to the talent that he has. No scheme nor system, per se, but he certainly has a theory – whether stated or not – that is centered around putting his players in positions to thrive and win. Two 1,000+ yard receivers, a 1,000+ yard rusher, and a quarterback who threw 31 touchdowns should be proof of this.
It may seem like I’ve gotten away from the point, but, as I said before: stick with me. Smith was named starter all of the offseason last year through training camp. If it weren’t for a playground-like altercation, he would’ve been the Week 1 starter. As of right now, he is the starting quarterback.
Jun 14, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) during OTA at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Remember, Marshall wanted to come to the Jets in order to play with Smith, even moving in with him briefly to establish a rhythm. Also remember that Decker played a full season with Smith and is well acquainted with him as well.
Now, my crystal ball is broken (either that or I’m not using it right), but let’s jump into the realm of fantasy and guesswork. In this realm, no one is injured and every player stays healthy the entire year. This is a world without Fitzpatrick and is ruled by Smith. Now that we’re in this world, let’s discuss my opening statement of why Smith can break Namath’s single-season franchise passing record of 4,007 yards.
Last year, Marshall had 1,502 yards and Decker had 1,027 yards. Let’s bring Marshall’s down a bit for this upcoming year. Let’s give Marshall 1,300 and leave Decker at 1,000, mainly because teams will start double teaming Marshall more. That’s 2,300 of the required 4,008 yards to break the record.
Let’s take the remaining 1,008 yards and divide them up evenly among the following players: Jace Amaro, Devin Smith, Quincy Enunwa and Charon Peakes. Each of these players would have to contribute a measly 302 yards.
Not sounding too crazy now, does it? Also, Smith is younger than Fitzpatrick, has a stronger arm and has had an entire year to learn the offense. Plus, Gailey will tailor the offense to Smith’s strengths. With play-makers on both edges and a handful of studs with more than competent running backs, Smith finds himself in position to start the season and blow up Namath’s record when all is said and done. Especially to the tune of silencing his critics once and for all.