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New York Jets

Column: Geno Smith better get his act together

11 AUG 2016: New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) during the pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford,NJ.(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Even with Ryan Fitzpatrick back on the roster, the New York Jets can’t seem to be able to avoid a quarterback controversy. Geno Smith hasn’t exactly been happy since losing the starting job to Fitzpatrick, who re-signed with the team late this summer.

Smith expressed his unhappiness through the media.

“It’s no disrespect to anyone, but I’m auditioning for this team and 31 other teams in the NFL,” Smith said on July 28 shortly after Fitzpatrick re-signed with the team according to ESPN. “The way you handle all of this says a lot about your character. I’ve got little kids back home [in South Florida] seeing how I react. Everyone will watch to see how I react. I’m not going to allow this situation — because it’s not the worst situation I’ve been in — to deter me from my ultimate goal.”

Everyone wants to start, so Smith’s actions are understandable, but at a certain point, it starts to look like he’s pouting. It also only gets worse if he can’t produce on the field.

He went 6-for-13 for 47 yards and threw an interception in the Jets’ second preseason game against Washington. If he isn’t careful, Smith could be the odd-man out at quarterback for the Jets at the end of the month.

A few weeks ago, all reports indicated Smith was way ahead of Bryce Petty for the backup job, but unlike Smith, the 25-year-old looked really good versus Washington, completing 16-of-26 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He took three sacks and fumbled twice, but the Jets recovered both.

That’s actually now five sacks Petty has taken in two preseason games. Regardless, New York’s coaching staff has to be impressed with his 8.38 yards per attempt average.

Smith is probably still the safer bet for the Jets to take into the season as the team’s backup under center. He has 29 career starts whereas Petty has none and no appearances. He’s never even been active for a regular season tilt. However, Fitzpatrick’s one-year deal and the selection of Christian Hackenberg clearly indicates the Jets are still searching for their long-term solution at quarterback.

If they believe Petty could still be that, there’s absolutely no way the Jets can release him. That means cutting a different quarterback, which would mean Smith (the Jets aren’t cutting Fitzpatrick or the recently drafted Hackenberg) or keeping all four signal callers on the 53-man roster.

Should Smith continue to pout and turn the ball over like he did Saturday and as he has done throughout his career, the decision gets a lot easier, and it’s going to mean his release.

Maybe that’s what he prefers at this point. It’s not hard to read his  comments about using this preseason as an audition for the other 31 teams in the NFL that way.

Although it’s tough to see any other team adding him to its roster if he continues to struggle. Smith is 14-for-27 (51.9 percent) with 121 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It’s a small sample size, but he’s averaging just 4.48 yards per attempt.

The writing is on the wall that Smith is at least losing his stranglehold on the backup quarterback position. ESPN reported Sunday night that when asked about the quarterback depth chart and specifically whether Smith was still No. 2, coach Todd Bowles failed to give a clear response.

“Until we make a change, there won’t be,” Bowles said. “That’s any position. When we make a decision at the end of camp, if it changes, it changes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

“Right now, they’re all playing, and we’re trying to see who sorts out what.”

If Smith isn’t careful, he could “sort” himself right out of a roster spot.

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