Why Ryan Fitzpatrick remains Jets’ better option over Geno Smith

Sam Monson explains why the poor decision-making of Smith against the Raiders reinforced the call for Fitzpatrick as the starter.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Why Ryan Fitzpatrick remains Jets’ better option over Geno Smith


In Sunday’s game in Oakland, we had the chance to see why many believed Ryan Fitzpatrick was actually a better option at quarterback for the Jets than Geno.

We also got to see why the Jets remain one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the game. Fitzpatrick got his chance because Geno Smith had his jaw broken in a locker room fight with a depth linebacker over $600. That’s not new news, or anything, but it’s worth digesting on its own for how ludicrous a scenario it remains.

This week, Geno Smith got a chance to take his job back when Ryan Fitzpatrick damaged ligaments in the thumb of his non-throwing hand and had to head to the bench.

I don’t mean to make light of that injury, but on the non-throwing hand, it seemed curious that it would be enough to put him out of the game for good. We all know Brett Favre would have taped it up, poured resin on it, and got right back out there. That was highlighted when Fitzpatrick did in fact return to the game after Geno Smith was knocked down late in the game.

Fitzpatrick went back out there for two snaps, delivered a nice strike to keep the offense moving, and then was called back ashore when Geno was ready to go again.

It would be a mistake to put this loss on Geno Smith. The Raiders’ offense was just too fast and too good for the Jets’ defense, and the team was in a hole early; but what we did see from Geno, as the team tried to rally, were some of the holes in his game that make it so hard to back him as the starter.

In those final minutes, he was charged with two of the dumbest sacks you’ll ever see a quarterback take. Twice, with time on the clock being the most valuable commodity the Jets had, Geno Smith dawdled with the ball in hand, and took a bad sack rather than throwing it away, stopping the clock, and avoiding the loss of yards on the play. This isn’t high level stuff we’re talking about; this is basic football IQ that’s failing him.

Smith actually made some good plays in this game, too, posting a passer rating of 104 when pressured and completing 64.3 percent of his passes overall. He hit a couple of strikes deep, but the majority of his success came on underneath passes that allowed his receivers to work after the catch.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has not been playing well overall this season, but the Jets find a way to win with him at quarterback. Some of that is down to the way in which he gives his receivers a chance to make a play (along with opposing defensive backs), but some of it is his basic understanding of what he can and can’t do in a given situation. Geno Smith might have more arm talent—and be able to make throws that Fitzpatrick can’t—but he is also still making decisions that would get a high school quarterback benched at times.

This loss isn’t totally on him, but he still took the opportunity to reinforce the idea that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a better option for the team at quarterback than he is right now.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • JudoPrince

    “Ryan Fitzpatrick has not been playing well overall this season, but the Jets find a way to win with him at quarterback”

    Really? When even when the Jets D gives up 30+ points? Geno’s issues primarily came from not being adjusted to the speed of the game, especially on the specific points of criticism the author highlights. But why would you expect him to be up to speed if he has been away from the field for several months? Was Big Ben up to speed yesterday with those 3 INTs despite missing several weeks? You know that it takes reps for a QB to perform at his highest potential. Remember, Fitz did nothing to earn the starting job as Geno got hurt — and it might be wise for the Jets to give the player with the higher ceiling another shot. You could have just as easily focused on the positives from Geno’s performance, as with most QB’s on Sunday, but the author clearly chose to focus on the negative.

    • Jaguars28

      Because Geno Smith has proven he is bad.

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    • McGeorge

      You raise a fair point, Geno was injured so didn’t have as much practice, plus he hasn’t gotten many (any?) first team reps. Maybe he would do better with more playing time.

      But what alarms me is his lack of awareness.
      Any QB knows that you run along the sideline and then step out of bounds just before getting hit. It lessens the blow and can draw a personal foul. Unless you are Cam Newton trying to run it in for a TD, QBs shouldn’t be taking shots like Geno did.

      Even with more playing time, I’m not convinced that Genos overall effectiveness is much better than Fitzpatrick’s. And that’s his upside. His downside is lower.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.willie.509 Joe Willie

    Sam did u ever play QB and try to hand a ball off or take a snap ?it’s not about pain it’s about the thumb wont work to hold the ball= Now to say Fitz is dumb taking the hit–YES HE IS

    • McGeorge

      Fitz is dumb for not learning to slide. He’s gone in head first numerous times this season. I’m “mad” at him, because it forced the Jets to play Geno, who I dislike.

  • ToreBear

    Coming from the PFF QB gurus, this must mean Smith should start. This spring IIRC you warned about Derek Carr not being good, and highlighted how good Teddy Bridgewater was. Seems the reverse has happened.

    I guess we will find out who is least injured of Smith and Fitz next week.

  • Douglass Pinkard

    I won’t argue the evaluation of Fitzpatrick’s play this season with anyone doing the kind of in-depth analysis found here on PFF, but if there’s one thing I will not stand it’s telling professional football players that they’re not sucking it up, playing with enough pain, or putting themselves back in games that another guy would have played with. It’s insulting in and of itself, but AMAZINGLY so coming from anyone sitting in front of a television set or computer monitor pronouncing on how much pain someone who’s out there should and can play with. A man (or men) would apologize to Ryan Fitzpatrick–publicly, the way you criticized him–for presuming to tell him he’s not man enough to play professional football. I MIGHT listen to this and say nothing coming from another player, but from you guys?! This was sickening to read.

  • T.J.

    Fitz came back in for 2 plays … I seem to remember him hitting an open by 10 yards OAKLAND D back right in the hands, but being a D’ back he fumbled it.
    I remember Smith rolling right, waiting / hoping for a receiver to get open – decision 1 – give up on the play or extend it ? then decision 2, near the sidelines – throw it out of bounds ( maybe risking getting hit in motion, turnover) or take it out ? I think both of those decisions ( one play) were justifiable.