New York Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles may have pulled the reins on Chan Gailey’s comments regarding quarterback Geno Smith, but the starting gig is still Smith’s to lose. Smith will have all the opportunities this offseason to prove he is worthy to take command of the offense. As of now, the West Virginia product is the Jets best option.
Chan Gailey is a master at creating offensive systems to match with the quarterback’s skillset. In Smith’s case, he will most likely be put into a pistol offense. Gailey has helped struggling quarterbacks to have success in the past, especially in their reads. The pistol offense is tailored to Smith’s particular skillset and will allow him to make plays with his arm and legs. As we have all seen in the past, Smith has had a large deal of success when extending plays with his legs.
The Jets currently have playmakers at all positions on the offense thanks to huge off-season acquisitions. General Manager Mike Maccagnan did not mess around in free agency and in trade scenarios. He helped bring in big name players. The Jets traded for Brandon Marshall to make their first big splash before free agency.
Marshall is easily one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL. He will offer the quarterback an enormous target with great hands. Marshall is a mismatch for most defenses and will serve as a great complement to Eric Decker. The Jets now have, undoubtedly, a number one receiver and another top pass catcher with Decker. Devin Smith was also added in the draft. Smith, the receiver, is a threat wherever he is lined up and is phenomenal at stretching the field. Geno Smith and Marshall have also been living together for the past few months. Marshall has made it clear that he believes in the third year signal caller.
The offensive line was also bolstered to give the running game a boost, along with providing time for the quarterback. James Carpenter was snagged from Seattle and Gang Green also drafted Jarvis Harrison to add depth. Harrison can certainly be molded into a starter. They re-signed veteran Willie Colon, as well.
The running back position was also addressed. Zac Stacy and Stevan Ridley were acquired, and they will help stack the Jets backfield. Stacy and Ridley have both had success in their young careers and can be serious playmakers in Gailey’s offense.
With the new additions to the offense, there are no more excuses for Geno Smith. Smith’s problems in his career have resulted from bad decision making and poor ball handling. Many forget he has not had much help on the offensive side of the ball in his first two years, and the offensive line also struggled at times. For a young quarterback, it is crucial to have help, and now Smith will have it (assuming he remains the starter).
Smith will have, what could be, his last big shot in the NFL. He has plenty of talent around him to flourish. If we see the Geno Smith in the form of the last few games of both his rookie and sophomore campaigns; the Jets could be in for a compelling season. Smith has demonstrated that he has the capability to be a good quarterback in the league, and one that can lead a team to victories. Already in his young career, Smith has led three fourth quarter comebacks and seven game winning drives. By the way, he was the only quarterback to post a perfect passer rating this past season. Consistency is the issue, but the new talent on the team will provide dividends.
Some analysts will argue that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the better option for the Jets. What many forget, is that Fitzpatrick has significantly struggled with turnovers as well, even as a veteran in the league. Fitzpatrick would be a quick fix for the Jets at best; who might not really be much of an upgrade at quarterback at all. Fitzpatrick has had several seasons with high interception rates. When given 16 starts in a season, which only happened twice in his career, he threw 23 interceptions in 2011 and 16 in 2012. He is also coming off a significant leg injury, which has hindered his chances so far.
Bryce Petty was also drafted to be the possible future for Gang Green in the fourth round. Initial reports from the Jets practices have shown that Petty has struggled at times, and will take some time to adjust to the professional game. Petty has all the talent to be a very successful quarterback, but as of now he is more of a work in progress. He may take some time to be ready, and that is probably a good thing. Rushing a quarterback hasn’t always ended well, as it clearly did not work out for Mark Sanchez in the Big Apple.
The NFL is becoming a league of mobile quarterbacks with big arms, and that is Geno Smith in a nutshell. If Smith can show consistency and maturity in the coming months, he is the Jets’ best option. Smith has indicated that he can make all the throws, and can extend plays with his legs. He is a dual threat quarterback and now has weapons all across the board from running back to wide receiver. Smith has the capability to take one of the most improved teams in pro football back to the promised land, as long as he shows his worst is behind him.