The New York Jets have had 10 different starting quarterbacks this decade. Here’s a complete ranking of who finished where and why.
Thankfully for New York Jets fans, the 2010s as a decade are finally in the books. 10 painful seasons which ended with nine straight seasons without a postseason appearance.
From 2010 through 2020 the New York Jets have had 10 starting quarterbacks in a single decade, hardly a recipe for success. But before we move on from this embarrassing decade of ineptitude it’s time for one last look back.
In 10 years the New York Jets rolled out 10 different starting quarterbacks. That perfectly round number of 10 quarterbacks in 10 years creates a perfect storm for a ranking list!
There are several factors that are going into this ranking system that are all weighted differently: record as a starting quarterback, stats, impact, and legacy. So without further adieu let’s do a nostalgic dive and ranking of the 10 starting quarterbacks for the New York Jets this past decade.
Next: 10. Falk me...
Yeah, this happened. The 2019 season started in disappointment when the New York Jets blew a 16-0 lead over the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. It was a game the green and white could’ve, would’ve, and probably should’ve won but after an untimely injury to linebacker CJ Mosley, the team collapsed.
Just when Jets fans thought that would be a blip on the radar, it got much worse a few days later when the team announced starting quarterback Sam Darnold would be out indefinitely with mononucleosis which is popularly known as the kissing disease.
Although that wouldn’t be the strangest headline the team would read in the newspaper during the 2019 season. The sudden quarterback news eventually forced the team to turn the reigns over to Luke Falk.
Falk played in three games, started two and went 0-2. Not only was he the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, but he shouldn’t have even been in the league. He never threw a touchdown but did throw three interceptions to go along with 416 yards through the air.
Next: 9. Alabama failure
You know you draft poorly when you select a player, he plays for your franchise for a few years, then leaves and never signs with another NFL team again. That was the case with former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy.
McElroy played in two games but was 0-1 as a starter with the New York Jets.
Although when Mark Sanchez was benched after a three-interception performance in the first half vs the Arizona Cardinals Greg McElroy made his NFL debut in December of 2012. Tim Tebow was also on the roster for the Jets but he was inactive with a rib injury that game.
He threw as many touchdowns (one) as interceptions (one) back in 2012. His touchdown came in a 7-6 win vs the Cardinals to former Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland (he didn’t get credit for the win because he didn’t start the game).
After being selected in the seventh round as a developmental prospect he never achieved much success in the league.
Next: 8. Captain Cripple
The first two members of this list were so bad that we put an injured guy who played less than a half during his tenure with the New York Jets. It’s been that kind of decade for the green and white.
Back on March 20, 2019, Trevor Siemian and the Jets agreed to a one year deal for $2 million. That contract ensured that Trevor would be the primary backup quarterback just in case anything happened to starting quarterback Sam Darnold.
Of course, something did happen but nothing we could’ve anticipated. When Darnold was ruled out with mono, head coach Adam Gase turned to Siemian.
On the surface, it seemed like the Jets could survive with Trevor at quarterback based on his knowledge of the offense, unfortunately, no one got to witness his full potential. Siemian broke his ankle after completing 3-of-6 passes for three yards vs the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football in Week 2. He was later ruled out for the season and that’s all she wrote on his career with the Jets.
Next: 7. System QB
New York Jets fans haven’t had a legitimate franchise quarterback since ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath. So every time the team selects a quarterback in the NFL Draft every New York Jets fan rationalizes how that guy can be THE guy and end the drought for the green and white.
We all remember when we did this for the Baylor product Bryce Petty. To add gas to the fire, the Jets traded up in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft to go get their guy.
At the end of the 2016 season, he had four games and a chance to prove it, sadly he did. Bryce Petty proved he would never be the answer for the Jets. In two years he went 1-6 as a starting quarterback and could never shake the system quarterback mechanics he learned at Baylor.
Ultimately he was cast aside as another quarterback failure in a long list of other quarterback failures that the team was unable to develop.
Next: 6. Wait he really played for NYJ?
Believe it or not, during this crazy decade of 10 different starting quarterbacks for the New York Jets, Michael Vick was actually one of them.
One of (if not) the greatest dual-threat running quarterback of all-time played 13 years in the NFL and one of those years was spent with the green and white.
After setting the football world ablaze, Vick pled guilty to federal charges in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation which tainted his football legacy in the middle of his professional career.
It not only cost him his reputation, but it also cost him valuable years of his prime and he spent nearly two years in prison for his disturbing crimes.
Those acts still rub a lot of people the wrong way to this day.
Ultimately Vick was granted a second chance and made the most of it in the NFL. After spending five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick signed on with the New York Jets.
He ended up playing in 10 games, starting 3 and finished with a 1-2 record as a starting quarterback for the green and white. Michael completed only 52.1 percent of his passes for over 604 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Vick also ran for 153 yards.
Vick reaching this high on the list is more so a statement on how bad the other quarterbacks were as opposed to a compliment of Michael Vick. Historically speaking he’d be the No. 1 player on this list, but this isn’t ranking history, it’s ranking their tenures with the Jets.
Next: 5. A surprising twist
Josh McCown is one of the most unique animals in NFL history. During his professional career, Josh played for 11 different teams. One of those was the New York Jets.
He signed with the Jets when he was 38 years old and was expected to be a quarterback mentor. But some guy named Christian Hackenberg couldn’t take a competition that was his to lose and instead McCown won the job from Hackenberg and Bryce Petty.
During the 2017 season, he ended up starting in 13 games before suffering a broken hand that cost him the rest of the season. Then during the 2018 season, he was forced back onto the field for another four games.
McCown is a passionate player who makes real human connections with teammates, fellow players, and fans alike. Despite a 5-11 record as the starting quarterback of the Jets, his impact went beyond the stat sheet.
Next: 4. Never worked out
Two images are burned into the minds of New York Jets fans when you hear the name Geno Smith uttered.
Firstly Geno Smith angrily waiting in the green room when he fell out of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. There were a lot of draft projections that had him as a top-10 pick, but instead, he fell to the 39th overall pick in the second round to the waiting arms of the green and white.
The other image that is burned eternally is the headline that shocked the football world with everyone questioning its actual validity but we soon learned it was true:
“New York Jets’ quarterback Geno Smith suffers broken jaw in locker room fight”
On August 11, 2015, that headline became a reality and Smith’s legacy was sealed. He was ruled out for two months, but the Jets started 2-0 with a different starting quarterback and Smith was banished to the bench. He did make one appearance during the 2015 season due to injury vs the Oakland Raiders.
Geno ended up spending four seasons with gang green and went 12-18 as a starting quarterback. There were brief moments where he displayed franchise quarterback abilities but that was washed away due to an overwhelming amount of turnovers (53 including interceptions and fumbles).
Sadly despite the few bright moments, he’ll forever be remembered for the weird money dispute over a couple of hundred dollars that resulted in his jaw being broken.
Next: 3. The future
Not sure if this will be a controversial placement on the list or not, but this is where Sam Darnold sits after two seasons in the league.
There’s been some good and some bad so far in his young career. A troubling trend from college has followed him into the NFL, turnovers.
In two years he has 42 combined fumbles and interceptions (this stat includes fumbles regardless if they were recovered or not).
His record as a starting quarterback is 11-15 (he’s missed time due to mono and injuries), but it isn’t all on him. Sam hasn’t had a ton of help from the front office in terms of putting a competent offensive line and weapons around him, that’ll be priority No. 1 in 2020.
Ultimately his sample size isn’t big enough to put him any higher on this list especially considering the lack of team success during his short tenure thus far.
The good news is the arrow is pointing upward after two seasons in the league. If everything lines up correctly, there should only be one starting quarterback for the Jets in the next decade of the 2020s and that’s hopefully Sam Darnold.
Next: 2. Controversial choice
Ryan Fitzpatrick owns the second-best single-season passing performance in team history with 3,905 passing yards. Believe it or not, that’s only 102 yards short of tying ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath for the best single-season performance ever.
The 2010s were horrible for the New York Jets there’s no sugar-coating that, but the 2015 season was close to being truly magical. It was the second-best record of the decade (10-6) and the team fell just short of the postseason.
After dropping to 5-5 after a 24-17 loss to the Houston Texans, the Jets went on a run. The green and white won five straight games including an overtime thriller over the New England Patriots to put them in the driver’s seat for a Week 17 matchup vs the Buffalo Bills. The mission was simple, win and you’re in the playoffs.
Sadly we all know what happened, the Jets blew it losing 22-17 and Ryan Fitzpatrick imploded with three interceptions in the fourth quarter. Ryan would stick around for another season with the Jets and finished 13-14 overall as the starting quarterback during his run with the green and white.
The incredible high of the 10-6 record-breaking season with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall coupled with the painful gut-wrenching loss in Week 17 to keep the Jets out of the playoffs makes his ranking on the list very difficult.
Next: 1. The GOAT
This decade technically started with the 2010 regular season so the 2009 playoff run can’t be considered for this. Even with that factoid being considered how can’t you go with Mark Sanchez as the No. 1 New York Jets starting quarterback of the 2010s?
Not only did he lead the only playoff team of the decade but he took the team to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. To accomplish that feat the Jets had to beat Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Tom Brady in Foxboro (which is the second greatest win in team history behind Super Bowl III).
In the 2010 AFC Championship game vs the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team didn’t show up in the first half and fell behind 24-3. The green and white made a furious rally scoring 19 unanswered and holding the Steelers scoreless in the second half, but ultimately fell just short of their goals.
Unfortunately in the court of public opinion Sanchez won’t be remembered for his 4-2 playoff record (with all four of those wins coming on the road) he’ll be remembered for the butt fumble. It’s sad that’ll be his lasting legacy nationally, but Jets fans will remember their fondest memories of the 21st century being relevant with ‘The Sanchize’ at the helm.