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Geno Smith Gets Sucker Punched, Jets Improve

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The Jets are dysfunctional, and yet they still managed to improve.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith was sucker-punched in the locker room and is projected to be out for 6-10 weeks. The player who punched Smith has been released. Smith is likely to miss the season opener and could lose his starting job.

The Jets are now better on the field.

New York has Ryan Fitzpatrick as their back-up quarterback, and ever since he signed he was the third best quarterback in the AFC East, behind Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill. The Jets placed Geno as the starter because he was drafted and groomed by the team. Fitzpatrick was not.

Of course, all the dominoes are in place for Fitzpatrick to have plenty of success with the Jets.

Fitzpatrick has never really played in an offense with multiple quality receivers. He's played with Stevie Johnson and Kendall Wright, but it wasn't until this past season that he played with DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson with the Texans and he put together his best season as a starting quarterback, with personal best completion rate, touchdown rate, and interception rate, until his injury.

This upcoming season, he'll be playing with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, along with Jeremy Kerley in the slot. While Fitzpatrick might not be a world beater at quarterback, he's lining up with players that will give him a better chance to succeed than he's had the rest of his career.

Fitzpatrick has also started 13 or more games in three seasons, all in a row: 2010-12 with the Bills. Fitzpatrick was a consistent 60% passer, with mid-20s touchdown passes and mid-10s interceptions. He was in the tier below Andy Dalton, but he was doing it without a receiving corps. In those three seasons, Fitzpatrick worked with head coach Chan Gailey.

Gailey is now the Jets offensive coordinator.

So the Jets will be playing a back-up quarterback who has had starting success and will be pairing him with the best receiving talent he's ever had, and with the coach with whom he's had previous success.

And for those laughing at Fitzpatrick, just one Bills quarterback has beaten the Patriots since 2003 in a game where New England wasn't resting all of their starters. It was Fitzpatrick in 2011, where the Patriots went to the Super Bowl.

The Jets just became slightly more dangerous.