As the New York Jets start training camp, their quarterback situation has some question marks heading into 2016.
The New York Jets have already report to training camp in Florham, Park, N.J. and questions about the quarterback position remain. Last year’s starter Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to sign and as the days pass, it seems more unlikely that he will return. However, given the recent signing of defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, it wouldn’t be shocking to assume that general manager Mike Maccagnan is working behind the scene to get a deal done.
Fitzpatrick enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2015 throwing for 31 touchdowns and 3,905 yards. While his strong supporting cast largely contributed to his success, it’s his intangibles that the team values. In addition to having command of the locker room, he’s also instrumental in helping the other quarterbacks grow and develop.
As it stands now, Fitzpatrick is not on the roster, therefore Geno Smith, who is entering his fourth season, is the starter. Smith is relishing his opportunity and has put in the work. He’s having a strong offseason and has looked sharp for the most part. Smith is also leaps and bounds ahead of second year quarterback Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg.
Smith typically looks good in practice and until the punch heard around the world, he was the starter last season. Questions about Smith typically arise during the season as his first two years have been shaky. The team did see improvement in Smith’s game during his second season compared to his rookie season. He also finished the 2014 season strong posting a 65.1 completion percentage throwing for 1,001 yards and six touchdowns (and just two interceptions).
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Until Fitzpatrick comes back, Smith will get all the first-team reps, but it will be interesting to see what happens when Fitzpatrick returns.
The Jets have made it known that he will be the starter when he returns, but how late is too late?
Petty has had a shaky offseason as he’s missed throws and committed costly turnovers.
However as the offseason progressed, he has continued to make strides.
Petty will continue taking the second-team reps, but it will be an important training camp for him as he shows the Jets that he belongs on the roster. His spot could be in jeopardy if Fitzpatrick returns. It would be hard for the team to justify carrying four quarterbacks given that they are in a win-now situation and every roster spot counts. Last year, the Jets wanted him to learn the system, but the team is looking for Petty to take it to the next level and apply it on the field.
Hackenberg will play the role Petty played last year – observing and learning. The selection of Hackenberg turned plenty of heads, but the Jets are hoping he will pan out and possibly become their franchise quarterback. Hackenberg’s accuracy struggles continued this offseason as he’s missed easy throws; however, the team isn’t worried. As he gets acclimated to the offense, the Jets are expecting to see some growing pains along the way.
It will be interesting to see if the Jets decide to bring in another veteran if Fitzpatrick doesn’t return. The Jets would prefer to have another veteran on the roster in the case of injury as neither Petty nor Hackenberg are ready to see the field. If the Jets decide to go with four quarterbacks, it’s worth watching how the team will divide the limited number of reps.