A few short hours ago, Adam Schefter announced that the New York Jets will be starting Geno Smith against the Baltimore Ravens for Week 7 of the NFL season. It appears as if the Fitzpatrick saga is over in New York, and as the self proclaimed biggest hater of bringing him back over the offseason I can honestly say I’m relieved. All offseason long, Jets fans and analysts alike said that the Jets needed Ryan Fitzpatrick to be successful. I understood where this talk was coming from, however I was never truly convinced.
Last season you can’t complain with Fitzpatrick’s numbers, 31 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 3,905 yards and a 59.5 completion percentage. And of course the record, 10-6 just shy of the playoffs. But when you looked at him closely there was some glaring problems. Many of his passes were forced 50/50 balls that the Jets were lucky enough to come down with, and in addition the defenses dropped many an interception. Also when you look at key games, particularly the two against the Bills, Fitzpatrick didn’t show up to play. All of this being said, I was fine with resigning him for a cheap rate. At the end of the day he was a veteran who performed ok but didn’t make the playoffs, but he wanted elite money, and he wasn’t worth it. Over the offseason I said it was time to give Geno Smith a shot. During his tenure as a starting, he was put into the position prematurely due to an injury to Mark Sanchez. Also he was never surrounded by any talent offensively or defensively. I argued all offseason that this was the best team that had ever been assembled in New York and Geno Smith had been putting in the time all offseason with the team, building chemistry. I was called a crazy person, but here we are week 7.
Now I’m not saying that Geno Smith is the savior to this season. But let’s look at this season. The Jets are 1-5 after a brutal first 6 games. “Fitzmagic” has thrown for 1,441 yards, 5 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Jets are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and I believe this is why the Jets went with Smith over Petty at the starting position. Geno has been a starter; he has won in this league. He has lead 4th quarter comebacks and he’s had good games. He’s also had very ugly games, but he also never had Brandon Marshall and company to throw to. I thought Geno’s confidence would be shot after being the starter all offseason until Ryan’s last minute show up to training camp. But he seems confident in his ability to lead this team.
Looking at his performance against Arizona… it’s a mixed bag. I thought his first bunch of throws were good. He looked good in the pocket, went through his progressions and didn’t stare down his receivers. As far as the interception is concerned, the Cardinals Secondary is great and quite frankly when a team knows the opposing offense is going to throw the whole time, and they have that level of talent, balls get picked.
What Geno does that Ryan doesn’t is open up the run game. Geno is mobile, and since the team decided to go without a fullback, there has been 0 run game. A mobile athletic quarterback will open up some holes for Matt Forte in the run game for sure. But this is assuming Chan Gailey doesn’t abandon running the ball after 1 series. It’s imperative that play calling improves.
Geno’s moment has come to step up and be a starter again in the NFL. We’ll have to see how he succeeds. The Jets schedule is certainly much easier, and he does have a chance to win games and maybe just maybe compete for a wild card spot. But it will be hard, and he’ll have to take care of the football. If he doesn’t… expect Bryce Petty to be the starter at the end of the season. As for Fitzpatrick, he’s either going to retire or be someone’s back up quarterback. But his time in New York is over