On Tuesday, New York Jets Quarterback Geno Smith got into an altercation in the locker room and suffered a broken jaw at the hands of now released IK Enemkpali. Whatever the reasoning was behind the altercation, many Jets fans are panicking, to which I say, why? Yes this is the third draft pick from 2013 to miss time this season (along with Defensive Lineman Sheldon Richardson and Cornerback Dee Milliner) but this is by no means a “loss” for the Jets franchise. Note I used the term “franchise” and not “team”; I did that because this may be the best thing that could happen for the New York Jets.
While I feel some empathy for Geno Smith, the reality is that he has been a below average Quarterback in his time in the NFL and has not lived up to the hype given him coming out of the University of West Virginia. In my eyes, I never understood the hype for a guy with average arm talent, above average athleticism and average Football IQ. Furthermore, the Jets organization has not shown real faith in Smith’s abilities to be the starting QB when they brought in Michael Vick to compete for the starting job last season and then in the 2015 NFL Draft selecting University of Baylor QB Bryce Petty. Smith has not shown the ability on or off the field to validate his standing as the Jets starting Quarterback.
Let’s go even deeper by highlighting why this is good for the New York Jets that Smith will miss 6-10 weeks with this injury:
1. Your Starting Quarterback is now Ryan Fitzpatrick
Some Jets fan may forget who Ryan Fitzpatrick is and I understand that, since Fitzpatrick is not a household name among many sports fans. Fitzpatrick has started 89 games from 2005 through 2014 in the NFL, amassing 19,273 passing yards, 123 passing Touchdowns, and a completion percentage of 60.2%. On top of that, for his career against the Jets (most of these stats he compiled as starter for Buffalo Bills) he has thrown for 1,477 yards along with 12 Touchdowns and 7 interceptions. In comparison, Geno Smith in two seasons has a career completion percentage of 57.5% and thrown 25 touchdowns versus 34 interceptions. If we go solely by the numbers, one would choose Fitzpatrick over Smith to start at Quarterback.
If we dig even deeper, one will find that Fitzpatrick is a graduate of Harvard University and scored one of the highest scores in the NFL Combine IQ Exam, The Wonderlic Test. Fitzpatrick is more than capable of being a starting NFL Quarterback and is better suited for the role than Smith.
2. Your Quarterback of the future is Bryce Petty, not Geno Smith
Petty, who was drafted by the Jets this year, has a higher potential ceiling than Smith. Petty who played at Baylor University, has a great arm, good Football IQ, and is an above average athlete. Yes he comes from a spread offense and still needs time to learn how to read NFL style defenses, but it is better he learn this while watching Fitzpatrick play than Smith stumble along. Petty has garnered comparisons by scouts to Tommy Maddox; many people forget how talented Maddox was before injuries derailed his career. If that scout’s analogy lays true then Petty has a bright future in the NFL and that is good news for the New York Jets and their fans.
3. Allows the Jets an out to not bring back Smith after 2015
The New York Jets have a Déjà vu situation on their hands with Smith missing at least half the season with this injury. In 2013 when Mark Sanchez was out for the season due to a shoulder injury, the Jets were able to give newly drafted Geno Smith extended playing time, opening the door for them to have an excuse to not bring back Sanchez and move forward with their new future Quarterback, who at that time was Smith. Sanchez was able to exit New York and landed in Philadelphia, allowing the Jets to fully invest in Smith as the future of the franchise without the previous first round draft pick Sanchez lurking in the wings.
Fast forward to 2015, with Smith’s mediocre two seasons in a Jets uniform as indication of a probable failed investment, this latest incident gives the Jets opportunity to move forward without the burden of another season with the cloud of Geno Smith’s unreached potential hanging over the organization. Smith has not been the Quarterback on the field or leader of the field the Jets need and there is no better time than the present for them to start planning for a future without him on their roster.