Rumors of Geno Smith's demise have, apparently, been greatly exaggerated.
The end is not near for Smith, the former second round pick who is set to enter his third year in the league after two lackluster years of multiple benchings, 34 career interceptions and one missed team meeting in San Diego. On Wednesday afternoon following just the second session of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), offensive coordinator Chan Gailey dropped the bomb that Smith will enter the season as the team's starting quarterback, this with more than two months left before training camp.
How could Gailey say that just two days into OTAs? It's simple really – because there is no quarterback competition apparently.
“Right now, Geno's the starter. To me [head] coach [Todd] Bowles has said, I say it, I think everybody's said it – that's the way it sits and that's the way we expect it to be,” Gailey said on Wednesday. “Unless something happens that you get an injury or something like that that you don't foresee, that's how we anticipate it going.”
When asked why at this point in preseason the decision could be made, Gailey simply said “Why not? Because Geno is the starter.”
It is a surprising bit of news and one that completely blindsided the media as well as the Jets fanbase. This offseason, the Jets had brought on board Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Houston Texans, a quarterback who started for Gailey several years ago when he was head coach of the Buffalo Bills. He isn't spectacular but he has a solid enough resume and enough experience. It was expected that Smith would at least compete with Fitzpatrick but there are no plans for a true competition.
That Gailey would concede the starting quarterback job to Smith so early is puzzling, but what is equally a head scratcher is that Fitzpatrick still isn't fully healthy after a season-ending knee injury last year that has limited him during offseason workouts and yet this decision is being made without a true comparison.
On Wednesday Smith was underwhelming. His ball placement was spotty and he continues to show an elongated throwing motion. Fitzpatrick wasn't much better and doesn't have the arm strength of Smith but he at least has some consistency at the NFL level and has increased his completion percentage each of the last three seasons.
That Smith, who has struggled with turnovers during his first two years in the league, is already the presumptive starter could be a devastating decision for this organization. Given the veteran moves made during free agency, the Jets might be a rebuilding team but they aren't a young team years away from the postseason.
With consistent quarterback play, they could be a playoff contender sooner rather than later. All of which makes Gailey's pronouncement of no competition all the more of a difficult move to fathom at this juncture.
“He's done enough good quality things. He's been here, he's done enough quality things that he deserves to be the guy,” Gailey said. “Just like anybody else in the NFL, if you don't play well over a period of time, you could [be benched]. Not in preseason, not in practices.”