Veteran QB Keeps Making The Same Mistakes, So It's Time To Give Backup Role To Someone With True Upside

By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns

As Donald Trump continues to give fully of himself to America’s comedians, so to has Geno Smith maintained his own dedication to the betterment of Jets opponents.

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We saw that again Friday in Washington as Smith, in after starter Ryan Fitzpatrick completed his work day, made yet another big mistake. This so-called experienced backup never did see veteran safety Will Blackmon sneaking up on Charone Peake as Smith tried to get their do-nothing offense in gear.

If Trump were running the Jets, he’d probably say, “Yeah, don’t worry about it. It’s preseason. Guarantee you he’ll be fine come regular season. Geno’s gonna be H-U-U-U-G-E!”

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But once we get out of the fantasy land of Trumpisms and the blind hope of any Gang Green follower who continues to support Smith, Trump’s most recent proclamation that “What the (heck) do you have to lose?” outlines the Jets’ backup situation perfectly.

On a serious, national stage, Trump’s comment is a joke. Place it in the Jets’ context, however, it’s a serious, realistic proposal.

Bryce Petty throws

Jets quarterback Bryce Petty passes during the game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on Aug. 19, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

With two extremely young quarterbacks in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg sitting behind the failed second-round pick, it is time to part ways with Smith.

Now. Not in a week or two.

Then let Petty, who is having a whale of a camp, and Hackenberg fight it out for the primary spot behind Fitzpatrick.

What have they got to lose? If Fitzpatrick goes down, the offense is in trouble anyway.

It’s probably going to come down to a game day depth of Petty and Hackenberg anyway. The Jets can’t afford to carry four quarterbacks on their roster, and the thought of stowing this year’s second-round pick, Hackenberg, on the practice squad seems counterproductive.

So thin the herd. Get rid of Smith and let the other two battle for the spot. Then let both of them get whatever experience they can on game days.

What have the Jets got to lose?

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Nothing.

In Petty, they have a young arm that combines with a far better head than Smith’s. Petty has gone 23-for-40 for 336 yards and two touchdowns this preseason while working against second-half scrubs. But still, it’s not like Smith has faced premier competition.

And at least Petty seems to know where the line of scrimmage is, as opposed to Smith, who failed to reach it on a third-down throwaway attempt Friday under a moderate pass rush.

That cost the Jets a humiliating intentional grounding flag.

Since Hackenberg hasn’t gotten into a game yet, and probably won’t until the preseason finale, the logical call would be to install Petty as the backup.

The key is timing, however. Do it now so Petty can get as many quality reps as possible. Having Smith continue to eat up practice snaps benefits neither Petty nor Hackenberg.

Were Smith a strong leader with even a bit of a resume behind him, the Jets might actually value him as a mentor for the other two.

But as Smith continued to prove Friday, he is neither a leader nor a good quarterback. Despite some wonderful physical gifts, he will always make the big mistake, always look lost when the offense most needs a steady hand.

Petty and Hackenberg may be too young to provide what Smith hasn‘t. But at least they have shown the capacity to learn. That will make their inevitable mistakes easier to stomach than Smith’s.

Either way, tolerance will be the key factor heading down the road. Does Todd Bowles want to continue to put up with the veteran Smith’s rookie mistakes, or start molding Fitzpatrick’s true successor?

His decision should have become crystal clear Friday.

Get rid of Smith now and let Petty and Hackenberg have the rest of camp to themselves.

As Trump would say, what the heck does he have to lose?

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Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino