When Rex Ryan was the coach of the New York Jets, the team was always in the news for either something the coach said or something one of his players said or did. After the team had hired Todd Bowles as Ryan’s replacement, it appeared things would change in New York, but this offseason has proved to us that things never change with the Jets. After barely missing out on the playoffs last season, the Jets have great online NFL betting odds of making the playoffs, but the question on everyone’s mind is can the team actually play to the level of the talent it has?
After leading the Jets to a 10-6 season, a lot of people assumed the team would take care of its free agent quarterback quickly, providing some stability for the team on offense. Instead, the Jets played a game of chicken with their quarterback and came close to having Geno Smith as their opening day starter.
Fortunately for New York, Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t in high demand because teams don’t know if his career season last year was a fluke or not. After missing most of their offseason program, the Jets finally signed Fitzpatrick on the eve of training camp.
With Fitzpatrick back in the lineup, the Jets have their undisputed opening day starter, but after Fitzpatrick, the QB depth chart is anyone’s guess.
The team drafted rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg, but he seems to be a long-term project and will likely be the team’s 3rd or 4th string quarterback when the season begins. During the team’s first preseason game, Hackenberg didn’t get to play, so it is hard to see how far along he is regarding learning the team’s offensive playbook.
Geno smith, who many expected to be named the starter if the team could not come to terms with Fitzpatrick, is battling Bryce Petty for the 2nd string position. Since the team likes both players, the Jets could be forced to carry four quarterbacks on its roster, which is something no NFL team has done since 2013. If they don’t want to have four quarterbacks on the team, they could send Hackenberg to the practice squad, which is unlikely because he could be picked up by another team when released.
Other than Fitzpatrick, Smith is the most experienced quarterback on the team, which makes him the obvious choice to backup Fitzpatrick. However, the coaches also like what they see from Petty, which makes it a hard decision for the team to make.
Bowles told reporters after the team’s preseason win over the Jacksonville Jaguars that he liked what he saw from both Petty and Smith during the game. While neither player was lights out, they each had a few flashes of brilliance.
During the game, Smith threw a 17-yard touchdown pass and finished 8-for-14, for 79 yards while running a conservative game plan, while Petty was 7 of 14 for 93 yards.
After the game, Petty said he was much more comfortable in the offense than he was last season, which was what he had been hoping for.
While the team hasn’t made anything official, we will get an indication on who is winning the backup race by seeing which player Bowles puts in first in the next three preseason games.