The New York Jets will name Geno Smith the starting quarterback for Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. On Wednesday, head coach Todd Bowles made the move official, on the heels of a terrible showing for Ryan Fitzpatrick on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals.
“I felt like it was time for a change,” Bowles said. “We had six games where we didn’t play very well in five of them. The quarterback is ultimately responsible but I’m responsible, the rest of the team is responsible.”
Smith was slated to be the starter for the 2015 season, but plans changed after he was punched in the locker room by then-teammate IK Enemkpali. Smith walked away from the altercation with a broken jaw.
Fitzpatrick took over as the starter, and he played well throughout the 2015 season, and the Jets finished with a 10-6 record and narrowly missed the playoffs. Fitzpatrick’s play has declined this season, and he was benched on Monday night against the Cardinals after going 16 of 31 for 174 yards and an interception.
After the game, Bowles said that Fitzpatrick would be the starter moving forward. On Tuesday, however, Bowles was noncommittal about Fitzpatrick and commended Smith’s performance against the Cardinals.
“He did show some promise when he was in there,” Bowles said. “He understood the game plan. He did good for the drive he was in there (for).”
Fitzpatrick has given Bowles plenty of reasons to make a change at quarterback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick's ranks this season out of 31 qualified QBs:— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 19, 2016
Comp pct Last
Yds per att 27th
Total QBR 28th https://t.co/AuErs93EWk
Smith entered the game against the Cardinals after the team pulled Fitzpatrick, and he completed four of six passes for 31 yards and an interception.
Fitzpatrick and the Jets spent much of the offseason mired in contract negotiations, and New York eventually signed him to a one-year, $12 million contract. He will be a free agent in 2017. Smith is making just under $1.6 million this year, and he is also set to hit free agency this offseason. The team has quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty waiting in the wings.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall should be happy about the team’s decision to start Smith. Marshall told NFL.com’s Judy Battista last year that he handpicked the Jets primarily because of Smith.
"I was really shocked at the intelligence, how smart he was," Marshall said. "I had known him as a player from afar. I didn't know his football IQ was so high. He had crazy passion. When I talked to him, I fell in love with the conversation. I said, this is a real opportunity, we have a great defense, great pieces on offense. If we can come together and gel, we may not be the best in Year 1, but if we can be effective and not turn over the ball, we can be in every game."
Turning the ball over has been a problem for New York this season. The Jets are last in the league for turnover differential with -12. This week, they face a Ravens team that is fifth in the NFL for creating takeaways.