The New York Jets seem to have found their starting quarterback in veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, but can he keep this up for 14 more games?
By Jeff Jarboe
Before fans and media analysts could even speak about the potential of a Ryan Fitzpatrick/Geno Smith quarterback controversy, New York Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles put it to rest by stating the bearded veteran will remain the starter moving forward.
The news itself doesn’t come as much of a surprise—Bowles made it clear weeks ago when Geno was first KO’d that Fitzpatrick would remain the starter if, “the ship is going the right way,” and it has been.
New York has won its first two games of the regular season due in large part to Fitzpatrick’s ability to command the offense (and a defense that has forced an NFL high 10 turnovers) and his ability to take care of the football. Yes, he has thrown an interception in each game, but overall the veteran journeyman has looked poised and under control running Chan Gailey’s offense.
He’s going to miss a few throws here and there and he’s not going to give you the same mobility that you would get from Geno, but what he does give you is a cerebral mind in the offensive huddle. He gets the little things right like clapping when there’s two seconds on the play clock to let Mangold know to snap the ball, or giving Brandon Marshall a hand signal that tells him to look for the back shoulder pass.
I’m not saying Geno Smith can’t do these things—he’s certainly capable of doing all of them—but we’ve yet to see it happen consistently during the regular season. If Smith is as improved as fans and analysts were lead to believe prior to this season, then Jet fans should feel comfortable knowing that they have a young, athletic quarterback ready to step in should the veteran Fitzpatrick fizzle out as the season drags on.
Based on the team’s schedule though, Fitzpatrick could be in-store for a full 2015 season as the Jets starting quarterback. Aside from the division games against Buffalo and New England, the Jets schedule is among the league’s easiest moving forward. Here are the Jets remaining 14 games:
- HOME vs. Philadelphia
- AWAY (London) vs. Miami
- HOME vs. Washington
- AWAY @ New England
- AWAY @ Oakland
- HOME vs. Jacksonville
- HOME vs. Buffalo
- AWAY @ Houston
- HOME vs. Miami
- AWAY @ New York
- HOME vs. Tennessee
- AWAY @ Dallas
- HOME vs. New England
- AWAY @ Buffalo
Assuming the Giants figure things out and the Cowboys get Tony Romo back by December, those two games would certainly qualify as tough match-ups. For the most part though, this is a VERY manageable schedule for Fitzpatrick.
With the exception of Buffalo, Houston and Dallas this offense is not going to go up against many top defenses. If the offensive line holds up and Fitzpatrick is able to stand healthy in that pocket, he should have no problem holding onto his starting job and keeping Geno Smith from touching the field.
So if Fitzpatrick starts all 16 games, what’s next for Geno Smith? That’s another conversation for another day. The only thing that is certain for the Jets and their fans right now is their defense is playing at an elite level, and they’re set to go up against one of the league’s most troubled teams in the Philadelphia Eagles. Oh boy.
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