In the most surreal bit of sports news Mathias Kiwanuka Jersey to hit Tuesday’s wires, Geno Smith, the incumbent starting quarterback for the New York Jets, is going to miss six to 10 weeks with an injury. And it wasn’t just any kind of injury; it was the kind you get when a teammate punches you and breaks your jaw.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, now-cut linebacker IK Enemkpali slugged Smith because he failed to reimburse Enemkpali for a $600 plane ticket. Jets fans — at least, Jets fans in the FiveThirtyEight office — rejoiced. But coming into the preseason, this Jets team showed at least a vague sense of promise. Are the Jets really better off without Smith?
Last year, New York went 4-12 (3-10 under Smith) with one of the NFL’s worst passing offenses, and Smith was pretty bad for the second straight season. In fact, his career has gotten off to one of the worst starts of any QB since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Although Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw kicked off their careers with equally bad passing efficiency numbers, it’s far more likely that Smith is a talent on par with, say, Kyle Boller than that he’s harboring hidden star potential.
And while Smith will be 25 this season, an age at which QBs still show a decent amount of improvement, the typical aging curve wouldn’t even carry Smith to league-average status at his peak.
Meanwhile, the Jets’ backup quarterback isn’t a bad one. Longtime Buffalo Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick occupied the seat behind Smith and — statistically speaking — he’s probably a better QB than the man slated for the huddle, at least in the short term. Over the past two seasons (when he was with the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans), Fitzpatrick’s Total QBR1 of 54.1 was better than Smith’s 41.2 mark during that span, and Fitzpatrick’s cumulative ProFootballFocus grade of +11.3 vastly outpaced Smith’s total of -37.3. By the numbers, the Jets are better off with the glass-jawed Smith out of the game, holding a clipboard on the sidelines.
Of course, these kinds of assessments always come with the caveat that individual football statistics are obscured by countless interactions, coaching decisions and other contextual factors. And the Jets did add a good receiver over the offseason, Brandon Marshall, so it’s possible Smith would have improved significantly in 2015 had he not run afoul of Enemkpali’s fist. But Jets fans shouldn’t worry too much about what might have been: The team’s offense will probably be better with Fitzpatrick under center than it would have been with Smith.A daily review of the hot topics coming out of San Francisco 49ers training camp:
For the first time in camp, the 49ers practiced in team drills with noise -- music by the likes of 2Pac,Ozzy, AC/DC and Metallica -- to better simulate game conditions here at practice No. 9. These are the doldrums of camp and guys are getting tired of hitting one another, so with the Houston Texans coming up, fuses are getting short. Still, there has yet to be a full-fledged brawl in practices open to the media and the biggest friction came between receiver Quinton Patton and cornerback Tramaine Brock. After Brock spun Patton to the grass following a completion from Colin Kaepernick, Patton tossed the ball in Brock’s facemask. No muss, no fuss.
Kaepernick started hot, completing four of his first five passes, but finished just 10-of-19 with an interception. There were at least three drops and a handful of sacks, too. It was obvious, though, that Kaepernick was working on his swing passes to his running backs, especially to Reggie Bush, who is getting more snaps now and demonstrated his burst in the open field. Kaepernick and Bush also connected on a deep pass down the right sideline
The interception was reminiscent of The Pick at The Stick as NaVorro Bowman stepped in front of Jerome Simpson to victimize Kaepernick. And like that pick-six against the Atlanta Falcons in the final NFL game at Candlestick Park, Bowman appeared to be off to the races
The catch of the day was turned in by undrafted rookie DeAndrew White, who beat Leon McFadden down the right side on a 40-yard pass from Dylan Thompson. White tipped the ball to himself and hauled it in with a one-handed grab for the touchdown. With White’s athleticism at receiver and his excellent work as a gunner on punt team, it is hard to see him not making the team ... through nine practices, at least.
By unofficial count, backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert was 14-of-16 passing ... against the second-team defense.The Jets, perhaps trying to contain the controversy, made only four players available to the media -- Colon, Revis, Mangold and Calvin Pace. Obviously, they have a mess on their hands and it could blow up into a season-long distraction if they're not careful, according to Colon.
"Things like this can become a cancer," he said.
The fallout bears close watching. Revis seemed upset with Smith, saying, "I hold them both responsible, just the way it played out.