I am starting to feel like the New York Jets have a secret plan at quarterback and have been following it this off-season. That plan is to start Geno Smith and they do not want Ryan Fitzpatrick back. Otherwise, the NY Jets would have worked out some middle ground with incentives to bridge the gap and have Fitzpatrick back already. They are hoping someone signs Fitzpatrick by the way they are acting, and getting the fans on their side. I know fans may disagree with me on this, but looking at the Geno Smith / Ryan Fitzpatrick timeline it makes sense… to me anyways.
Year 1 (2013)- Geno Smith is drafted: Jets know he won’t be ready to start off the rip, due to the fact he does not come from a pro-style offense and was playing in a one read, screen based offense. Training camp rolls around and Mark Sanchez looks like he won the starting job. Rex Ryan puts Mark Sanchez in with the backups, hurts his shoulder, and Geno is now the starter due to the injury. Ryan, who many believe was set up to fail so then GM John Idzik could then pick his own coach, goes 8-8 with Geno Smith as the QB, retains his job, and Geno Smith’s role as a starter is cemented for 2014 to Ryan’s displeasure.
Year 2 (2014)- The New York Jets were terrible. The Jets start 1-8. Geno Smith looks lost on the field at time when forced to pass more than he did in 2013. Playing from behind more, mostly due to the lack of legit corner backs, Geno Smith struggles the first half of the season but finishes strong after being benched a few times for Michael Vick. Smith finishes the season with a 77.5 QB rating, and a 59.7 completion percentage. Over the last six games, his QB ratings are 97.6, 35.7, 87.4, 88.2, 83.9, and 158.3. He is finally making the progress they expect him to make, but still shows immaturity and a need to continue to develop.
Year 3 (2015)- Geno Smith finally has a good team around him, and the NY Jets have an extremely favorable schedule. He looks great in camp, and wins job outright against veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Then Punch Gate happens. Ryan Fitzpatrick takes team over, and wins the hearts and minds of his teammates. Jets go 10-6. Fitz looks terribly inaccurate in first half of big games, and is 0-6 when defense gives up 20 points or more. The New York Jets brass now believes he cannot win big games, and knows that he is not the QB of the future at his age. The team is hamstrung by contracts, but in 2017 they will have big money to spend, and are in a middle ground of “rebuilding and going for it”
Year 4 (2016)- So now they are in a position of “they have a veteran, who is good, but not great. He is gritty, and he is loved” and they have a “young punk QB who was trending up, but never had a really good chance to be successful, has a HUGE arm and is super athletic, and shown flashes of being unbelievably talented.” Now do not forget, most QB’s take a few years to develop, and guys are rarely successful starting as a QB year 1 and 2. Geno came from a non-pro offense and has struggled under center, but is a good fit for Chan’s spread offense. They wanted to see what he could do in 2015, but never got the chance.
I think the Jets brass made the decision coming into this off-season, that it would be a good idea to give Geno another shot, but they can’t do it if Fitz Magic is around without a large amount of backlash. They know Fitzpatrick deserves starter money, but by not offering it to him, they can get out of the situation or get him at a cheap price that will not hamstring team rebuilding the next three years.
That is my take on the situation. They are trying to switch back to Geno, while placing the blame on Fitz for asking too much. Maccagnan wants to win the public relations battle to keep the backlash off Geno Smith and himself as much as possible, while he makes the change back to the young quarterback to see if he has what it takes. It is now or never for them on Smith, and franchise QBs do not grow on trees. Sometimes you have to roll the dice. Remember, while Brandon Marshall publicly lobbies for Fitzpatrick to come back, he originally said he came to New York to play with the young talented quarterback named Geno Smith.