When New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles announced the change from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Geno Smith at quarterback this week, he made some vague remarks about how the two quarterbacks had different strengths and how Geno might better fit what the Jets are trying to accomplish on offense going forward. It isn't entirely clear what Bowles meant by those remarks, but one good guess might be a more vertical approach to the passing attack.
Other than the Buffalo game the Jets have really not been taking many shots downfield, largely because it is not a strength of Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, Geno Smith has a much stronger arm and is, at least in theory, better suited to a more vertical attack.
With the loss of Eric Decker the Jets suddenly are faced with substantial degradation in the route running skills and intermediate passing game at which Decker excelled. The guys stepping up into more prominent roles in Decker's absence are nowhere near the quality of receiver Decker is, but they do have have better speed. The Jets receiver unit has been transformed into one with youth, size, speed and athleticism, but, other than Brandon Marshall, with little in the way of veteran savvy or route running skills. The kind of ball control offense the Jets ran under Fitzpatrick doesn't really suit this group of receivers. Perhaps the way to make the best of this is to play to these young receivers' strengths and go vertical. Charone Peake and Robby Anderson have plenty of speed to get downfield, and with Devin Smith possibly returning soon, this team is stacked with inexperienced speed receivers. In addition, Quincy Enunwa has ideal size and speed to be successful on deep seam routes, but he was not used much in that capacity with Fitzpatrick at the helm.
Perhaps with a much stronger armed Geno at the helm and a surplus of young speedy receivers the Jets think now would be a good time to go vertical. One big problem with that thought: the offensive line may not hold up to give Geno the additional time needed for a vertical attack.
We will soon see what Bowles meant by his somewhat cryptic comments regarding Geno. It will not come as a shock if the Jets start taking quite a few more deep shots. If the line can somehow hold up, we just might see a much more exciting brand of big play football in the coming weeks. Or we might see an avalanche of sacks and interceptions with Geno and ragged play from inexperienced receivers. Stay tuned. This could get interesting.