FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – If his own teammates don't think he was close to being ready to be an NFL starter then Geno Smith might be in some deep doo-doo this offseason as he looks to once again be atop the depth chart come Week 1.
Following Willie Colon's comments on Sirius XM this past Tuesday that the Jets rushed along the young Smith during his first two years in the league, with Colon saying of Smith that “He was never ready to be the starting quarterback of the New York Jets,” it is clear that the quarterback has plenty to overcome not just on the field but in his own locker room if he wants to be the team's starter this year. That his teammates can look back and see that Smith wasn't polished enough to be a starter is now beginning to crystallize and it further casts doubt on if the locker room is ready to embrace him yet again this season.
So far Smith has gone through a couple of rough days in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) as fellow quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick again looked the better player on Wednesday.
All of which turns the focus back on to Colon and his comments. Saying that Smith “was never ready” to be a starter for this team is a serious indictment on the former second round pick, meaning that his two seasons and 30 games played were premature. It speaks to Smith's maturity off the field as well as his ability to lead a team on the field.
Head coach Todd Bowles didn't want to portray the veteran offensive lineman's hot take as being a slam on Smith. He made it clear early on during Wednesday's press conference that “My personal feeling, if you have nothing good to say about a teammate, you don't say it.” But he didn't want to characterize Colon's remarks as added pressure.
“I don't think so, you don't know Willie. I don't know the situation. I wasn't down at the interview. There's freedom of speech, he can speak to the press, he's a grown man, he's part of the team,” Bowles said.
“I know how he feels about Geno, I know he feels about the team. Nothing Willie said is wrong. You can speak your mind. If you want to speak your mind, that's up to him and that's probably a question you probably have to ask him. I don't see anything wrong with it and I don't see it harmful to him, no.”
Colon's remaining comments on the team were rather innocuous, perhaps he did enough damage already and knew to back off at that point. But he did say that the Jets are handing Smith the keys to the Porsche with this offense, especially with two marquee wide receivers in Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall as well as a veteran offensive line and a deep backfield.
Now it is up to Smith to sink or swim to retain the starting job. So far, he's treading water and given Fitzpatrick's rather solid performance on Wednesday, that might just earn him a job carrying a clipboard this year.
“I don't have a Porsche so I can't answer the question. They look nice on the outside. I don't compare our offense to any type of car or vehicle or any type of situation,” Bowles said. “We're going to try and get better by the day and make sure we put people in the right place to make plays and we're going to go from there.”