FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – There will be competition, so says a team source about not just the quarterback situation for the New York Jets but all across the field for a team that is hoping to rebound from last year's 4-12 record. But truthfully, it is all about the quarterback competition.
In recent weeks, the Jets have had to change their narrative about the quarterback position, first after offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said that Geno Smith was the starter and wouldn't lose the job during training camp or preseason, which then led head coach Todd Bowles to walk-back those statements the following week. Bowles said that Smith entered camp as the starter but didn't make any promises beyond that. Internally, the Jets currently have Smith as the starter over Ryan Fitzpatrick, but a team source tells Metro that it is for depth chart purposes and a way to divvy up reps in camp. It doesn't mean that “he's a lock or whatever to start.”
In other words, the source said, things will be fluid.
“It will be a competition, the best man will start,” the highly-placed source told Metro. “There will be a lot of factors, from performance on the field to the classroom to upside. But one player doesn't have it on lockdown. There will be competition.
“This is true at all positions. Just because you're a draft pick or a high-priced free agent doesn't mean you are guaranteed to start, to have a big role, whatever. This is definitely true at quarterback. Training camp will determine things, preseason games will determine things. That goes for quarterback, it goes for all positions. Everyone is always being evaluated.”
When asked if Smith is predetermined to be the starter come Week 1 the source simply said, “No.”
How this plays out for Smith remains to be seen. Over two years, Smith has been the starter far more than not for the Jets after inheriting the job as a rookie for an injured Mark Sanchez in 2013. He's shown flashes and glimpses of being a quality quarterback then produces a befuddling moment only plays later.
In Fitzpatrick, there is a quarterback who has had success when he played for Gailey with the Buffalo Bills. Gailey was the Bills head coach from 2010 to 2012. He's smart and can manage the game. But long-term, the grizzled veteran isn't the answer for the Jets' quarterback woes.
“Geno, he's got talent,” the source said. “But can he put it all together? Can he be consistent? Inconsistency kills you in the NFL. In order to be a starter and shed the project label or whatever people are calling him he needs to produce every game. Limit mistakes, make plays. That's what it boils down to. He's got a lot going for him.
“But he'll have to earn it and perform better than the other guys if he wants to keep it.”