New York Jets

When thinking about the hotly contested Geno SmithRyan Fitzpatrick quarterback debate for the New York Jets, this one key reigns supreme.

Do you consider yourself adventurous? Do you enjoy a spark in life from time to time? Are you in need of a jolt to your everyday grind?

No, this isn’t a sales script for your local travel agent.

If you feel the need to have your eyes open wide with intrigue, engage your nearest diehard New York Jets fan in the classically contested (and unfortunately ongoing) narrative that is the Geno Smith-Ryan Fitzpatrick situation. What’ll come from that conversation will last you many years.

This is the only conversation in Jet land right now. It makes total sense. In not employing a true franchise quarterback since the early 1970s – I believe his name was Joe Namath – Jets fans have suffered from QB delirium time and again. If one summer they believe they’ve finally found that franchise guy (Mark Sanchez), the next offseason brings word that Tim Tebow is joining the fray.

The discussion about sub-par Jets quarterbacks has been ongoing for over 40 years.

Specifically, it’s the Geno-Fitz debate that’s now raging.

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Everybody understands the backdrop. Although he firmly had his hands grasped around the starting position last August, an IK Enemkpali haymaker forced Geno to watch Fitzpatrick to throw for a Jets single-season record 31 touchdowns a season ago. Now, of course, Fitz and the Jets are at odds while sitting at the NFL big boy negotiating table.

Much like society in this great country of ours, Jets fandom has become more divided than ever. There are Fitz guys who can’t get enough of the bearded Harvard product and there are Geno backers who curse the day Fitz demanded more than his real market value.

There are valid points on both sides. Make no mistake about that.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a journeyman QB who’s seen his ups and downs. Reunited with Chain Gailey is when it seems he’s a capable starting signal caller in the league.

Geno Smith is a second-round selection who possesses loads of raw physical ability. Despite his poor career TD/INT ratio of 27-35 (including a ridiculous 16 fumbles), he never experienced a weapon such as Brandon Marshall on the outside.

Positives and negatives about both QBs are constantly laid out on the table. If one Jets fan bashes one guy, another will praise the other. Round and round we go.

For some strange reason, however, one important key factor seems to always be missing when this topic is brought up.

Ryan Fitzpatrick actually did it. Geno Smith never has.

For some strange reason, however, one important key factor seems to always be missing when this topic is brought up.

Ryan Fitzpatrick actually did it. Geno Smith never has.

In 2015 Fitz showed Jets fans what he’s capable of with a solid offense and his familiar Gailey system entrenched. He finished the season with just under 4,000 yards, 31 TDs and 15 INTs. He took the Jets to a 10-6 record missing the playoffs thanks to one horrific Week 17 in Orchard Park, New York.

The 2015 season was more than any Jets fan could have ever expected.

Still, despite the fact Fitz and the Jets over delivered in 2015, naysayers point to the soft schedule and Week 17.

Why, though? The reason you’d back the idea of choosing Geno over Fitz should never come down to a soft schedule or a poor game in Week 17 – the same week both B-Marsh and Quincy Enunwa dropped a few critical passes.

The only reason you’d point to those two factors is if you back the idea of not backing the money truck up for the guy. That is evidence for the total compensation discussion. It shouldn’t be evidence for actually wanting to chose Geno as the starter over Fitzpatrick.

Just because you feel Fitz can only lead the Jets to a 7-9 or 8-8 season in 2016, doesn’t mean Geno will do any better. Money aside, when it comes down to the two players, it’s tough to justify the idea that Geno provides the Jets a better chance to compete in 2016.

First off, place blame where you want, but Smith has to have some level of culpability in the locker room incident with Enemkpali. We’re not talking about scrub-on-scrub violence here. We’re discussing the supposed leader of the team; the face of the franchise and of the offense heading into a new campaign under a brand-spanking new regime (Mike Maccagnan, Todd Bowles) allowing a silly situation become uncontrollable.

All reports from the summer of 2015 had Smith playing incredibly well. Additionally, all reports had this new regime aching to give the youngster first dibs at the starting position. He was afforded the opportunity to start for the Jets and promptly repaid the organization by scuffling over a measly $600.

Think about the ramifications. Would you, if you were a first-year NFL general manager or head coach, ever trust that guy again? Or would he have to earn your trust over a long period of time first? The incident raised many questions then. The questions remain with us, as we move along in time.

It opened the door for Fitzpatrick and he made the rest of 2015 history.

Playing devil’s advocate, what if Geno never experienced that situation? What if Geno – surrounded by talents such as B-Marsh and Eric Decker – led the Jets to a 10-6 record while throwing 31 TDs?

If that happened, Jets fans would be enthralled.

Finally, a young Jets QB would have actually delivered a phenomenal season. If that happened and Jets management didn’t lock up Geno this offseason (because he’s heading into the final year of his rookie deal), there’d be a mutiny on our hands.

If Geno did what Fitz did a season ago, all of our franchise QB answers would have been answered in one fell swoop.

That would be the unanimous voice.

The problem is Geno didn’t do that. Nor do we know he would have. Rather, we’re left with more questions than answers in the curious case of Geno Smith.

There are many positives and negatives to both players, but the biggest factor actually comes down to having already performed for the organization. Ryan Fitzpatrick has, Geno Smith hasn’t.

Never should Week 17 be pointed to as a reason for Geno should be the QB. The only determining factor is this: Who provides the Jets a better chance to win in 2016?

To say Geno provides the best chance is to roll the dice and act like both B-Marsh and Gailey left town – the two guys Fitz has already built incredible chemistry with.

It’s Fitz’s job. Geno’s doing and saying all the right things, but, thanks to August of 2015, will have to wait his turn.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]