Grading current quarterback situation
By Ryan Patti
As the New York Jets prepare for training camp, their quarterback situation continues to be very concerning.
It’s pretty obvious that the New York Jets have quarterback issues at the moment. It’s been almost four months and Ryan Fitzpatrick is still on the market. General manager Mike Maccagnan refuses to give the veteran what he wants and quite frankly, it’s hard to blame him for staying put. ‘Fitz’ without a doubt had the best year of his career in 2015, although the Week 17 meltdown in Buffalo is what everyone remembers most.
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As for the quarterbacks who are currently on the roster, things look a bit murky. Geno Smith is of course the starter and it’ll remain that way, but Gang Green has no idea what they’ll get out of him in 2016. The West Virginia product has been the definition of inconsistent since joining the NFL in 2013. He’s logged a number of excellent performances as well as games in which he was benched after multiple mistakes.
In three seasons, Smith has racked up 5,836 yards and 27 touchdowns through the air along with 638 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. The stats show he’s progressing, however the problem with him is taking care of the football and that probably won’t change. Even in his years as a Mountaineer, Smith was a risk-taking play-maker lighting up the scoreboard in the Big 12. If NFL defenses were like college defenses, he’d be having similar success. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
He tossed 21 interceptions in his rookie campaign, 13 in 2014, and one last season in the Week 8 matchup vs. the Oakland Raiders. Fitzpatrick injured his hand in the first quarter, so Smith stepped in and actually strung together an impressive day. The interception was essentially the only blemish.
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On top of the interceptions, Smith coughs up the ball every now and then too.
He has a total of 15 fumbles thus far and he’s lost 10 of them.
With all that said, lots of weight will be on his shoulders if he’s the man under center in 2016.
It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the summer unfolds for him and Fitzpatrick with high expectations following a 10-6 season.
On the other hand, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty are works in progress until Maccagnan thinks one can take over as the franchise quarterback. The Jets selected Petty in the fourth round of last year’s draft and Hackenberg in the second round two months ago. Both of these guys were remarkable in college breaking school records and always in conversation for the Heisman Trophy.
Petty finished at Baylor with 8,195 yards, 62 touchdowns and a mere 10 picks in four seasons. Hackenberg totaled 8,457 yards, 48 touchdowns and 31 interceptions in three years as Penn State’s starter. Neither pose a threat as a scrambler, however Petty flashed his athleticism on several occasions in 2013.
Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is also the perfect coach to groom the two when you consider the scheme fit. Gailey runs a spread offense and both youngsters aired it out quite a bit in college to say the least. Petty played in a spread offense while Hackenberg worked in a pro-style/spread hybrid. When New York moves on from the veteran they start in 2016, there’s a strong chance that one of these two have success.
Since there isn’t a fourth quarterback on the team, all three should make the final 53 if Fitzpatrick doesn’t return. If the Harvard graduate does return, the odd man out will most likely be Smith. Gang Green invested too much into Petty to move on after one season and Hackenberg isn’t going anywhere. The 2013 second-rounder is certainly on the hot seat whether he’s the starter or not.
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Overall, the position may be shallow and it looks weak right now, although the potential is there from top to bottom. One of the three just have to hit their stride and emerge.