It might be the end of an ‘error’ — the Geno Smith Error that is — as the New York Jets are sounding confident in recently acquired quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
As Smith, the former second round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, readies himself for his third season he is no longer the clear-cut favorite to starter under center for the Jets. After two years of mounting losses and a regression in his development, it appears that the veteran Fitzpatrick, recently acquired in a trade, has the ability to take away the starting job from Smith.
On a Wednesday conference call with the media, general manager Mike Maccagnan said that Fitzpatrick likely won’t throw during offseason workouts due to an injury but he expects the player to be ready for training camp. And that means yet another training camp competition in the land of the Jets.
Maccagnan certainly knows a thing or two about Fitzpatrick. Before coming to the Jets, Maccagnan was the director of college scouting for the Houston Texans where Fitzpatrick played last season. In addition, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was head coach of the Buffalo Bills for several seasons where Fitzpatrick was the starting quarterback during that stretch.
“With Ryan, and I was only with him for one year down in Houston, but I was really impressed with, again, his work ethic, his approach, his personality, definitely from a leadership standpoint was a positive down there. I thought he played well for us prior to getting injured. He does have history with Chan,” Maccagnan said. “So that was definitely a positive in terms of Chan knowing the player. But again, from that standpoint, there’s a degree of being familiar with a player, but more so just know the quality of person he is. That’s probably the thing I would say the most about it, just knowing the type of person you’re bringing into the environment. From that standpoint, ability aside, that made it kind of an easy decision for me and a guy that I thought would bring a lot of value to our organization.”
Last week, a team source told Metro that Fitzpatrick was being brought in to compete for the starting job and not merely to mentor Smith.
Set to enter his eleventh season in the league, Fitzpatrick for his career has thrown for 19,273 yards. He has 123 career touchdowns and 101 interceptions.
Smith has certainly struggled throughout his NFL career, following up flashes of consistency with poor decisions. In the small sample size of two NFL seasons, he has yet to throw more touchdowns than interceptions in either season.
It is hard to think that head coach Todd Bowles will look upon Smith as a long-term solution at quarterback, especially with the veterans on the offensive side of the ball including recently acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Which means that Fitzpatrick could be a stop-gap should the Jets decide draft Marcus Mariota at No. 6. Maccagnan attended the Oregon Pro Day last Thursday where the Heisman and Maxwell Award winner showed his stuff.
“I would say, simply, that I think when it comes to the draft, I think I’ve echoed this before, the draft, to me, you tend to want to take the best player available in theory. And can whoever the best player available is, if we’re at that pick, again, not to say we’re going to lock into a certain player or a certain position, that’s the approach you want to take,” Maccagnan said.
“Now, we have a long evaluation process to go through to get to that point. I would say simply I don’t think any player is either on or off our board in terms of what we would do based on our current roster. We’re going to approach it like everything, what’s the best opportunity cost in terms of what player we can add at that pick that’s going to help our team get to where we want to go.”
If the Jets should decide to draft Mariota, they would have the luxury of starting Fitzpatrick or Smith until the highly touted quarterback would be ready to start.