Sunday notes: Conflicting signals on Jets' QB situation

A look at what's happening with the New York Jets:

1. Here we go again: In my opinion, Todd Bowles is sending a mixed message with his stance on the quarterback situation. Speaking from the league meetings, he said "it's hard" to get an accurate feel for Geno Smith because they haven't had a chance to meet, talk football and review last season. At the same time, Bowles said Smith will line up with the starters when training camp opens, adding the first-team quarterback will get the majority of the reps -- a philosophical choice.

Translation: Smith will get first crack at the starting job. Again.

This should be an open competition between Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick, their new Band-Aid quarterback. His encouraging finish notwithstanding, Smith didn't play well enough last season to deserve first dibs. He finished with a 35.4 Total QBR, second worst in the league. But, by declaring that Smith will receive most of the reps, Bowles essentially has created a scenario in which it's Smith's job to lose.

Where is it written that it can't be a 50-50 split?

To be fair, Bowles issued a handful of qualifiers, saying: Smith still has to earn the job; the arrangement isn't etched in granite; and the upcoming draft could change the dynamic. (Marcus Mariota, anyone?)

Bowles also made it clear he wasn't anointing Smith. Explaining why Smith is the current No. 1, Bowles said, "He finished off last year and there’s nobody else we have." He was alluding to Fitzpatrick's broken leg, which probably will keep him out until training camp. Talk about a hollow endorsement.

All the more reason to make it an open competition, assuming Fitzpatrick is healthy by camp.

Nobody is calling Fitzpatrick a franchise quarterback -- this is his sixth team in 11 years -- but he's a viable option because he knows Chan Gailey's offense better than anyone in the building not named Gailey. He was Gailey's quarterback for three seasons in Buffalo, 2010-12. Fitzpatrick wasn't great, but he wasn't terrible, either.

Does Smith have a higher ceiling? Absolutely, but that was the talk last year when they signed Michael Vick. They were willing to live with Smith's growing pains, and it backfired. No one is saying Smith should be kicked to the curb. He deserves a fair shot to win the job. But so does Fitzpatrick.

2. Change in plans? In his introductory news conference, Bowles said he was planning to let his defensive coordinator, Kacy Rodgers, call the plays. At the league meetings, he backed off slightly, saying, "It's going to be a collaborative effort right now." It's going to be interesting to see how this unfolds.

One of the things that attracted the Jets to Bowles was "his ability to be above just a defensive coordinator ... and be able to take a 30,000-foot look at offense, defense, special teams," owner Woody Johnson said on Day 1. In other words, be the anti-Rex Ryan.

3. The crazy cost of chasing the champs: In their quest to close the gap on the New England Patriots, the Jets, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins have spent an obscene amount of money this offseason. As of last Tuesday, they had doled out nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in guaranteed money -- $245.1 million, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That accounted for 22 percent of the overall league spending.


A pretty large chunk is going to two players -- Darrelle Revis ($39 million) and Ndamukong Suh ($60 million).

4. The complete package: One of the ancillary benefits to having a player like Revis will be his influence on younger players. Former special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, who coached for 30 years, told me, "Revis is one of the hardest-working practice players I've seen in my career." If I'm Dee Milliner, I'd make it a point to hang around Revis as much as possible.

5. Speaking of Milliner ...: Bowles pretty much squashed any notion of trading Milliner, whose role is uncertain in the wake of the Great Cornerback Spending Spree. He's also rehabbing a surgically repaired Achilles' tendon. Nevertheless, Bowles expects him to be on the team. "Oh, definitely," he said.

6. Alarming bust rate: Based on history, there's a very good chance one of the top two quarteback prospects -- Mariota or Jameis Winston -- will fail to live up to expectations. In the common draft era (since 1967), two quarterbacks have been selected within the first 10 picks a total of 21 times. In only four of those instances have both quarterbacks either started a Super Bowl and/or been elected to the Pro Bowl, per ESPN Stats & Info. Food for thought.

7. Mariota vs. Winston: One of the things people need to realize about Mariota is that, unlike Winston, he wasn't surrounded by the greatest supporting cast in college. He compiled a 90.9 QBR last season even though none of Oregon's receivers were deemed worthy of an evaluation by Scouts, Inc. Winston's signature year was 2013. He posted an 89.4 QBR, and he was throwing to a future No. 1 pick, Kelvin Benjamin.

8. Summer is approaching: The Jets still haven't announced their training camp location. Long Island's SUNY-Farmingdale once seemed like a strong candidate, but it's out of the running. The folks at SUNY-Cortland are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping Ryan's departure doesn't dissuade the team from a return appearance. (Ryan was the driving force behind Camp Cortland.) The Jets also could decide to stay home, Florham Park, New Jersey.

9. Money talk: Remember before free agency, when we were talking about how the Jets had to spend major bucks to stay compliant with the league's minimum spending requirement? Their cash spending for 2015 and 2016 must average about $140 million, according to the NFLPA. Well, they've added about $70 million in payroll for 2015, putting them at $140.1 million, per ESPN Stats & Info. That total will eclipse $150 million once they sign their draft picks.

10. Vinny the teacher: Old friend Vinny Testaverde, an instructor at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, is tutoring East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden, a late-round prospect. Testaverde is helping him with some mechanical flaws in his delivery. If he can clean that up, he might have a chance because scouts rave about his intangibles.