Inside Slant: With Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets improved at QB

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If you can get past the shock associated with how New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith broke his jaw, and swallow hard on the implications for his career, at least in the short-term you can move to a far more uplifting conclusion: The Jets should be better at quarterback in his absence.

Lost to most of the NFL world is the reality that current Jets backup Ryan Fitzpatrick had one of his best seasons in 2014 with the Houston Texans. He outperformed Smith in every metric imaginable, compiling a career-high 56.7 Total Quarterback Rating on the strength of a 63.1 completion percentage and a touchdown-completion ratio (2.12) that ranked No. 13 in the NFL.

Compare that to Smith, whose 1.0 touchdown-interceptions ratio ranked No. 30 in the league during a season in which you could have expected him to take a step forward. His QBR of 44.3 ranked No. 26. Earlier this offseason, colleague Mike Sando used advanced analytics to calculate that Fitzpatrick would have been worth 2.5 additional wins per year over Smith over each of the past two seasons.

If Fitzpatrick is so skilled, it's fair to ask, then why wasn't he competing with Smith for the Jets' starting job? The simple answer is that the organization was committed to finding out, once and for all, whether Smith is the long-term answer. Fitzpatrick would always be available, and primed to work with a familiar offensive coordinator, if Smith bombed out. (Fitzpatrick and Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey were together with the Buffalo Bills from 2010 to '12.)

That plan has now been delayed, if not scuttled entirely, by Tuesday morning's altercation (sucker punch is another fitting description) in the Jets' locker room.

It's an undeniable setback for the Jets from a long-term organizational standpoint, at least based on the hope that Smith would take a step forward and prove to be the answer they hoped for. And it might ultimately force a decision on Smith without seeing him at his best on the field.

In the short term, however, they might have upgraded at the position and surely haven't lost any ground. How's that for looking on the bright side?