Deep down, in a twisted kind of way, Geno Smith’s broken jaw might actually be a blessing in disguise for New York Jets’ fans.
We know, on the surface it simply sounds foul.
Nobody wants to see another human being hurt in such a senseless matter. What happened to Smith was both dumb and uncalled for and has no place in any professional workplace.
Still, Smith’s tenure as the Jets’ starting quarterback, as well as his NFL career, was dealt a huge blow this week when a teammate broke his jaw with a sucker punch over $600. Second-year linebacker IK Enemkpali was immediately cut by the Jets for delivering the blow that will sideline Smith for six to 10 weeks and was immediately picked up by their division rivals, the Buffalo Bills.
Now former Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, 32, will be the Jets’ QB to start initially, and maybe for the entire season.
Jets fans got their first look at Fitzpatrick on Thursday night in a 23-3 preseason loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
In limited action, Fitzpatrick completed two of three passes for 16 yards. He led the Jets on a 10-play, 41-yard drive that resulted in a field goal.
“I thought he did well,” said new Jets coach Todd Bowles. “He really commanded the offense.
“He’s cool, calm and collected. There was nothing big to brag about, but he did his job.”
For sure, it wasn’t a performance to make fans jump for joy that their savior has arrive. But having a veteran signal caller waiting in the wings gives them hope that the season isn’t lost even before it officially starts.
This will be the sixth team Fitzpatrick has started for in his NFL career. The journeyman QB has had some shining moments – even if they’re few and far inbetween.
Still, the Jets can feel confident in his ability. That’s just wasn’t the case with Smith. He’s been extremely inconsistent during his first two seasons. Before his injury, most weren’t convinced that Smith would be able to lead the Jets anywhere.
And you get the feeling that “most” included some of his teammates as well.
Brandon Marshall, who was supposedly pumped to play with Smith, didn’t sound heartbroken after Thursday’s game.
“I’m just moving forward,” Marshall told reporters. “I think the whole team is moving forward.
“I think you’ll hear that echoed throughout the locker room. It’s time for us to move forward and play ball.”
Indeed, it doesn’t sound as if the Jets are losing any sleep over Smith’s absence. In fact, had his teammates respected him and value his ability that incident would have never gotten to that point.
For sure, teammates would have stepped in to stop the dispute. Locker rooms normally police themselves against these kind of things.
Instead, teammates looked away and did nothing, hence allowing a team to lose their most important player on the squad.
No way this would have happened to Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford or Peyton Manning.
It says a lot about Smith and how others view him.
As for Enemkpali, who was picked up by former Jets coach and current Bills coach Rex Ryan, he shouldn’t be on a roster this season. There definitely should have been a rejection of such actions. Ryan failed in rewarding Enemkpali with a new gig.
On Thursday IK apologized to the Jets’ organization. “I apologize for what happened,” Enemkpali said. “It should have never happened. I should walked away from the situation. It was never my intention to hurt anybody.”
The lame news conference lasted 45 seconds and he didn’t take questions.
The question for the Jets is are they better off with Fitzpatrick at the helm over Smith?
Just by looking at paper, right now the answer is yes.
Long term is something else. But in the now, the answer is clear.
Yet you get the feeling that the Jets, both players and management, are hoping against hope that Fitzpatrick plays well and they can simply move past Smith.
If the team is winning, there will be no calls for Smith to return to his gig.
It’s not normal that something bad happens which actually helps a situation or circumstance. But in the case of the Jets, they might have actually caught a good break for a change.
And it might have only cost $600.