If healthy, Geno Smith, not Ryan Fitzpatrick, needs to be the New York Jets starting quarterback in Week 8 against the Cleveland Browns.
On Aug. 12, 2016, something happened in the life of Geno Smith that was disastrous. A teammate, IK Enemkpali, punched the starting quarterback of the New York Jets squarely in the jaw, breaking it and forcing Geno off the NFL football field.
It paved way for Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead the Jets to their most prolific offensive season in franchise history. It paved way for FitzMagic.
Geno’s since had to wait his turn patiently. He’s even had to deal with being teased as the starter all summer long while Mike Maccagnan and Fitzpatrick played patty cake at the negotiating table.
On Oct. 23, 2016, over 14 months since the punch heard ’round the locker room, Geno Smith started for his Jets. But in a cruel twist of fate, he suffered a knee injury and was forced to watch New York win its first game since Week 2 in Orchard Park.
Fitzpatrick came back into the game and led the Jets to victory.
Despite the feel good story for Fitzpatrick supporters, No. 14 showcased much of the same mediocre play Jets fans have witnessed since the Bills game. Instead, it was Todd Bowles‘ defense and the offensive line led by Matt Forte‘s 101 yards that paved the way for the Jets against the Baltimore Ravens.
It leads to only one conclusion: If healthy, Geno Smith needs to be the starting quarterback for the New York Jets.
This has very little to do with each QB’s skillset. It has very little to do with Geno’s golden arm far outplaying Fitz’s noodle arm. It doesn’t involve the team actually coming away with a victory in a game Smith started. For pro-Fitzpatrick people, who believe he should take the helm in Week 8, this decision doesn’t even revolve around your claim that Fitz has done it before and possesses the QB mind that Geno doesn’t. A QB mind that’s needed to get the job done at this level.
Rather, it has everything to do with the nature of the NFL.
Geno had to patiently wait his turn after his mishap led to his pending misfortunes. Now, because Fitzpatrick couldn’t get the job done over the first six weeks of the season, he must wait his turn.
Don’t, for one moment, ever buy the garbage that “an injury can’t force a player to lose his job.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. If the New York Yankees welcomed that advice, Lou Gehrig never would have existed in our minds and hearts.
Injuries do matter and the hot hand means everything.
Smith looked good early against Baltimore. While he finished with just 95 yards on 4-of-8 passing, two big time drops (one from Brandon Marshall on a post), contributed to a lesser stat-line.
He looked cool and calm in the pocket. One of his very best attributes — hanging tough in the pocket — was on full display on Sunday. The highlight of his day, without a doubt, was when he found Quincy Enunwa on a mid-range hook that was taken to the house for the Jets most explosive offensive play of the season:
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) October 23, 2016
Sure, Geno does bring qualities to the table that defensive coordinators have to worry about. He’s mobile, which leads defensive people worrying about the zone read and containing the edges. He’s got a rocket for an arm, which leads defensive people to worry about the deep ball. He’s fearless, which leads defensive people to worry about the impossible happening.
It all doesn’t matter for these 2-5 Jets right now. What matters is that he’s patiently waited his turn and something new can happen moving forward.
The Jets were right to tab Geno the starter prior to the 2015 season. There was no QB competition leading up to Mike Maccagnan’s first season. Geno was the starter and Fitz was the clear backup. This move was correct from every angle, as it made sense to find out what the second-rounder could do with a new scheme and shiny toys surrounding him.
They were also right in tabbing Ryan Fitzpatrick the clear starter entering the 2016 season. Fitz earned that right with his 31 TDs and 10 wins a season ago.
But now, they’d only be right if Geno remained the starting quarterback. He did enough at the beginning of this win while Fitzpatrick took the victory home in a very, again, bland fashion.
Truth be told, there isn’t much of a difference between the two quarterbacks. This team was never meant to showcase the QB in a heavy way.
In the end, though, Geno has waited his turn, just as you all asked. It’s time for his final shot wearing the green and white.