New York Jets Quarterback Competition


With Ryan Fitzpatrick still unsigned, the New York Jets are in bit of a predicament at the quarterback position. Last season Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a 10-6 record; missing the playoffs after losing to the Buffalo Bills in the final game of the season. Ideally, having Fitzpatrick back for his second season is a good move, as he knows his receivers, and knows Chan Gailey’s offense from his days in Buffalo.

Fitzpatrick recently came out saying he’d “rather not play football” than accept the $8 million offer the Jets gave him. Without Fitzpatrick, the Jets must scramble with the current players they have on their roster.

Backup QB Geno Smith has not performed as the team hoped. From 2013-2014, Geno was 11-18 as a starter with 27 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. Head Coach Todd Bowles recently said on NBC sports, “Without Fitz being on the team right now, Geno’s first-team and then we’ll go from there.”  Bowles added,“Obviously we’re still working on a deal if we can get Fitzpatrick back. So until that’s addressed and we take care of that situation right now, Geno will go into OTAs as a starter.”

Smith has had issues on and off the field; an altercation last season over an unpaid debt left him out with a broken jaw. Smith may not be the most be viable option which is why the Jets are still looking for Fitzpatrick to return.

If the Jets are unable to re-sign Fitzpatrick there may still be an upside. While Geno was the starter, he was throwing to Jeremy Kerley and a slowed-down Santonio Holmes. Now he has Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Matt Forte as true weapons to get the ball to. If the defense can keep the team in games, Smith just has to be serviceable at QB to keep the Jets in the playoff hunt.

To add to the controversy, the Jets drafted Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round in this year’s draft. Hackenberg struggled as a sophomore and junior, but did a lot of things well during his freshman year that made him a highly touted prospect.


Hackenberg has a big arm and one of the quickest releases in the NCAA this year. He also showed a lot of promise his freshman year in Bill O’Brien’s pro style offense, and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year though he struggles to make quick decisions or move his feet well in the pocket. Todd McShay, ESPN’s college football analyst said of Hackenberg, “He’s one of the hardest evaluations in the draft. You have to believe in your quarterback coach and coordinator that they can rebuild him, if you will.” McShay is referring to the upside he shows in some moments, but also how he sort of regressed during his sophomore and junior seasons.

According to general manager Mike Maccagnan, it’s not in Hackenberg’s best interest to start this year, but hopefully he can be the future quarterback for the New York Jets.“In a perfect world, you’d like to give those guys a chance to sort of grow, develop, before you have to throw ‘em into the fire,” Maccagnan said on ESPN Radio (via Seth Walder of the New York Daily News). “Hopefully if we can re-sign Ryan [Fitzpatrick] and we have Geno [Smith], kind of go from there and see how we do.”

It’s unclear if a deal will get done between the two sides, but the organization should realize it can’t go anywhere without its quarterback. Fitzpatrick is asking for around $18 million, which seems high for a quarterback who is not a star in this league. Fitzpatrick did play well enough to earn a new contract, but perhaps not for his asking price.

For now, Jets fans remain hopeful a deal will be signed. If not, it’s another season with Geno Smith, or a rookie quarterback which could spell disaster for gang green.

Follow Alex Spinelli on Twitter @aspin32

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