After an offseason in which the team didn’t know who their starting quarterback would be after a contract impasse with Ryan Fitzpatrick, plenty of Jets fans were happy the team was able to resign Fitzpatrick, and they showed it during the team’s first preseason game of the year. Even though the Jets are NFL expert picks to make the playoffs, the team would likely have a losing record if they had to turn to Geno Smith as their starter.
To better illustrate just how little fans think of Smith as a starter, the quarterback was booed by the home crowd after throwing two incompletions. However, Smith ignored the boos and fired off a 17-yard touchdown pass to Charone Peake in the team’s 17-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game was played on the anniversary of the day Smith’s jaw was broken at the hands of Ike Enemkpali, which cost him his starting job last year.
On Thursday, Smith replaced Fitzpatrick after the starter led the team to a touchdown in the two series he played in. Despite taking only nine snaps and missing all of the team’s offseason workouts, Fitzpatrick’s 2016 debut was impressive and showed Jets fans that the contract holdout didn’t affect his play.
As a group, the Jets quarterbacks combined for 18-for-32 passing, 244 yards, with one touchdown and no turnovers. Although rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg didn’t play in the first preseason game, his roster spot is assured because the coaches are high on him.
Bryce Petty, who could be the odd man out if the team decides to carry three quarterbacks instead of four during the season, had a decent showing, finishing 7-for-14, for 93 yards. While Petty had a couple of nice moments, the quarterback also missed a wide-open Jace Amaro on what would have been a big play for the offense. Petty’s game management skills were also suspect at times, but he didn’t do anything that would hurt his chances of making the team, which is a positive for him.
Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, whom coaches have called one of the most improved players on the team, had a strong showing catching two passes for 69 yards. Jets head coach Todd Bowles called Enunwa the Dennis Rodman of the team’s offense because he is willing to do the dirty work. Enunwa showed he is capable of doing more than the dirty work by getting open twice on downfield plays, showing his coaches he has the ability to stretch the field.
Although Enunwa is listed as the team’s third receiver, he can also play the tight end position, making him a valuable part of the team’s offense.
Due to injuries, newly acquired running back Matt Forte and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson didn’t play. Cornerback Darrelle Revis was dressed but also didn’t play against Jacksonville. Revis’ absence was probably a precaution to avoid a serious injury during the preseason.
Rookie receiver Jalin Marshall impressed the coaches by making one of the biggest plays of the night, which was an 84-yard kickoff return. Marshall, who is an undrafted free agent from Ohio State, might have locked down a roster position with his play on Thursday night.