If you follow this site or the NFL in general, then you know that Geno Smith is currently the New York Jets starting QB with the team and Ryan Fitzpatrick at an impasse on contract negotiations. A new development today brings some clarity to the issue, and could mean that August 11th is a pivotal day in Smith’s NFL career. Allow me to explain.
After Geno Smith had his jaw broken in the “punch heard around the world” in a locker room last year, journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in and started all 16 games, leading the Jets to a surprising 10-6 record while throwing for almost 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns against 15 INTs. Smith, by comparison, has 27 passing TDs and 35 INTs in his entire career.
Naturally, most people believe that Gang Green would be much better off with Fitzpatrick under center. Here’s the rub. The 34-year-old is a free-agent and still unsigned. This is his last chance at a big contract, and the Jets have yet to present him with an offer that he finds acceptable.
The team reports to training camp on Wednesday, and unless Fitzpatrick signs between now and then, Geno Smith will be QB1. In Smith’s defense, he has spent the last year maturing as a player and teammate and by all accounts looked very sharp during offseason activities. The physical tools are there for Smith, who possesses a better arm than Fitzpatrick. Since being drafted, it has been the tools in between his ears that haven’t been a strong point for the record-breaking WVU quarterback.
As of today, contract negotiations with Fitzpatrick are stalled, and he will not be with the team when Training Camp begins. There will to be a time within the next few weeks that the Jets are going to have to make a decision on the direction of the team.
On August 11th, the Jets begin their preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars. If Smith is the starter in that game, he will be under immense pressure to go out an perform very well. Why?
If he plays well–and will likely only play one quarter–and shows his teammates and coaches that he can lead this team, that will go a long way towards the Jets making the decision on whether to give into Fitzpatrick’s contract demands.
Two days later, the team will begin their first of four practices in preparation for their second preseason game. If Fitzpatrick is not in camp by then, then he will have a long way to go to reclaim the starting job, and if signed, the Jets and head coach Todd Bowles will have to convince the team that Fitzpatrick is their man, despite missing every day of every practice from May until then.
What if Smith plays poorly on August 11th?
My guess is that the Jets front-office will cave in and re-sign Fitzpatrick and roll out the red carpet to get him back in the fold.
So, with it looking like the Jets and Fitzpatrick will not agree to terms before the start of training camp, all eyes are going to be on Geno Smith to look sharp and be a leader.