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New York Jets Team Needs: Quarterback

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New York Jets Team Needs: Quarterback

2014-02-26 17:18:15

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Geno Smith scrambles against Atlanta in New York’s MNF win. (Image Source: Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY Sports)

It’s unclear what exactly the Jets have at the quarterback position.

For starters, it’s fair to ask, do they have a starting quarterback on the roster?

Rookie Geno Smith started every game in 2013 but was wildly inconsistent, which is why he did not finish all 16 games. There were some highlights like 331 passing yards against Buffalo, a three-TD effort (80 percent completion rate) in a Monday night win at Atlanta, and of course their victory over New England.

However, they were too few and far between. Smith threw multiple interceptions seven times (twice throwing three). He had five games in which he failed to complete even half of his passes and 10 where he completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes. He finished with 12 TD passes to 21 INTs.

So, if Smith is a starting quarterback right now, he’s a bad one.

To be fair, he was a rookie who was thrown into the fire, quarterbacking a team with a very poor offense around him. It’s not outlandish to say the Jets had the league’s weakest group of pass catchers in 2013.

They also have Mark Sanchez, who missed just two starts in his first four seasons in the NFL, but it’s expected that the former top-five pick will be a salary-cap casualty at some point in the near future (bonus due on March 25). A source told ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini that there is a 20 to 30 percent chance that the team could retain Sanchez, assuming he would take a significant pay cut.

If they do release Sanchez, they will at the very least be in the market for a veteran quarterback to backup Smith, and possible push/complete with the second-year pro. Recent rumors emanating from Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine has the Jets focusing on Michael Vick, who worked with New York’s OC Marty Mornhinweg during their time together with the Philadelphia Eagles.

There are two schools of thought here. One way of thinking is to bring in a less-threatening backup QB to caddy for Smith. One who brings experience, can provide wisdom and can play in a pinch if Smith were injured or really struggled, but also understood he was being brought to Gang Greenland to serve as a backup. This would help prevent Smith looking over his shoulder and alleviate any potential quarterback controversy.

Others will tell you that 1) if Smith can’t beat out someone like a Michael Vick he doesn’t deserve to hold one of the 32 starting QB jobs in the league and 2) that if his psyche isn’t strong enough to handle competing with a veteran gunning for his job, then he probably doesn’t have the makeup to be a successful starting QB in the NFL.

Both points of view are valid. While the Jets are a rebuilding team with a second-year GM in John Idzik, they are also coming off an 8-8 season and finished just one game out of the playoffs with a head coach in Rex Ryan who is entering his sixth season and is probably coaching for his job.

There is room for philosophical debate.

In addition to Vick, Brian Costello of the New York Post lists Matt Cassel, Chad Henne, Shaun Hill and Josh McCown as potential veterans that could be brought in to backup and/or compete with Smith.

So, the Jets may not have a starting QB on the roster and they certainly don’t have a reliable backup. If Smith isn’t the man, that means that they don’t have the QB of the future on the roster either, so don’t be surprised if they draft a quarterback at some point.

The Jets have been linked to UCF’s Blake Bortles as one of eight teams to have a formal meeting with the future first round pick according to the Orlando Sentinel. In order to net someone like Bortles the Jets would probably have to trade up to get him.

Don’t expect the Jets to use a first round pick on a QB. A prospect like LSU’s Zach Mettenberger or Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois in the mid-rounds is a more likely scenario if Idzik is looking to add a developmental passer in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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