Coming off a degrading 4-12 season in which Geno Smith threw as many touchdowns as interceptions (13), the New York Jets must address the quarterback position this offseason. A good quarterback is almost always imperative to have a great team, and the Jets were last in the NFL in passing yards.
They had an exceptional receiving corpse, highlighted by Eric Decker, Percy Harvin, Jeremy Kerely, and Jace Amaro, and an elite running back tandem featuring Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, and Bilal Powell. Still, Smith dragged the Jets to an underwhelming season on many levels.
The Jets scored at least 20 points on just five occasions. With as talented of an offense as the Jets have, that is beyond unacceptable. It all bottles down to the quarterback and his ability to make the right decisions, go through his progressions, and hit his open receivers.
Oftentimes, he would see a wide-open man and target him, but miss, resulting in an incompletion or interception. The Jets must bring in competition for Smith this offseason, and may do so via free agency and/or the NFL Draft, in which they hold the sixth overall pick. There are three top options for the Jets to consider drafting, and another three for them to consider signing.
Moore has been a career backup except for his 2011 season with the Miami Dolphins in which he replaced Chad Henne. He didn’t display any fireworks as a starter, going 4-6 in 2011, and 11-12 in his 23 career games started. Moore would provide good competition for Geno Smith, as neither has posted even average statistics thus far in their careers. Smith has the edge in a competition over Moore, as he has his youth and potential to improve, while Moore will be regressing in talent.
Sanchez was the Jets’ starting quarterback from 2010-2012, until being replaced by Geno Smith and placed on the injured reserve for the 2013 season. The Jets let him go after 2013, and he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as their backup quarterback. In the preseason, Sanchez displayed sparks of talent, but wasn’t expected to see any meaningful playing time in the regular season.
That all changed when Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles suffered a season-ending collarbone injury, and he was sprung into action as the interim starter. Sanchez did show some fireworks as the starting quarterback of the Eagles, and had his best season as an NFL quarterback. In a competition with Geno Smith, Sanchez has the advantage, as he is the more talented quarterback. It would take a lot of progression from Smith to be able to beat Sanchez out.
It is unlikely, however, that the Jets would sign Sanchez due to negative fan reaction, and interest from other teams.
Hoyer started for the Cleveland Browns in 13 of 16 games and went 7-6 when starting. On a team lacking offensive talent, winning seven games is quite an accomplishment. He threw just 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions in 2014, with a modest, but adequate passer rating of 76.5. It was his first season as a starting quarterback, yet he was usurped by rookie Johnny Manziel.
In a competition with Geno Smith, they would be neck-and-neck for a good portion of the contest. Hoyer did a lot with very little, while Smith did little with a lot (at least a lot in comparison to the Browns). Smith did have flashes of brilliance, however, and those will be more prevalent in years to come.
It would take a lot of luck for former Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota to fall to the Jets in the draft, at the sixth overall pick. If he does fall to the Jets, they should take him without a second thought. Mariota is a tremendously talented and athletic quarterback, hence he won the Heisman Trophy in 2014 for his historic season that took him all the way to the National Championship against Ohio State, however he and the Ducks fell short of the title.
It would be tough to predict the result of a quarterback competition between Geno Smith and Marcus Mariota, as Smith is inconsistent and Mariota needs to adjust to a pro-style offense. He will falter at first, but if his skills translate to the next level, watch out for Mariota.
Winston is very talented, but his maturity is in severe question. He has had run-ins with the law, and has been disciplined for his childish antics at Florida State University. It is pretty likely that he falls to the Jets. Winston, although extremely talented, did not play nearly as well in 2014 as he did in his Heisman-winning 2013 season.
While he is not a scrambling quarterback, Winston can score on the run and has underrated speed. The best thing about Winston is he played in a pro-style offense for Florida State University, so his transition to the NFL will be much quicker than the other two college quarterbacks listed. In a competition with Geno Smith, Winston has a great shot at beating him out, as he is very talented, but doesn’t need to make much of a transition into the NFL. If he can stay out of trouble, he should fare very well in his NFL career.
Hundley is extremely athletic and efficient. He throws a multitude of touchdowns, but very few interceptions, while putting up the rushing numbers of an above average running back. In the last two seasons, he had 21 rushing touchdowns and 1,392 rushing yards, as a quarterback. He has great arm strength and accuracy to throw all over the field.
His problem is he comes from a similar system to the one Geno Smith came from, in which just about every snap comes from the shotgun formation. He will need to make a large adjustment, just like Geno Smith. In a competition with Smith, Hundley is the underdog because Smith is in his third year of transition and progression as an NFL quarterback, while Hundley will be in his first.
The Jets need to acquire at least one of these quarterbacks to compete with Geno Smith, and let Matt Simms have a fair shot at the starting job as well. With a whole new regime, they may want their own quarterback, so drafting could be in their best interest. The sooner the Jets find their franchise quarterback, the sooner they will become an AFC powerhouse.