Todd Bowles: Jets will have QB competition but job Smith's 'to lose'

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets don't have a quarterback controversy -- yet. Right now, it's quarterback confusion.

One week after offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said he expects Geno Smith to be the opening-day starter, claiming a Smith-Ryan Fitzpatrick competition never was a consideration, coach Todd Bowles took his turn at the microphone Wednesday and presented a different picture.

Bowles said Smith is the No. 1 quarterback, but that the backups -- Fitzpatrick, Matt Simms and rookie Bryce Petty -- will be competing against him.

"I view it as an open competition, with Geno being the starter," said Bowles, commenting for the first time since Gailey made headlines. "It's his to lose. It's Ryan's to take. It's Bryce's to take. It's Matt's to take."

Bowles, reiterating what he has said throughout the offseason, said Smith will go into training camp as the first-team quarterback and will receive the majority of the reps, adding:

"Come camp time, there will be competition at that spot. I've said it from Day 1."

Yes, he has, but Gailey changed the narrative last week when he all but handed the job to Smith, who threw 34 interceptions in his first two seasons.

Gailey said it "wasn't a thought" to have an open competition, declaring the plan is to have Smith start in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.

"That's the way we expect it to be," Gailey said. "Unless something happens with an injury, something that you don't foresee, that's how we anticipate it going."

Gailey said there's virtually no way Smith can lose the job based on practice and preseason games. Bowles contradicted that, saying "it's no different than any other position. Whoever starts out with the first team will get the first-team reps as [performance] dictates," including the preseason.

On face value, there seems to be a disconnect between Bowles and Gailey, although some of the confusion can be attributed to semantics. A lot depends on the definition of "competition." Bowles said it's "open," yet he stated his philosophy is to give the first-team players most of the practice reps.

Got that?

Bowles said he and Gailey have the same take on the quarterback situation, insisting, "We're always on the same page." He said Gailey has a "very matter-of-fact personality" and was just responding to a question based on the current circumstances at the position, mainly Fitzpatrick's injury and Petty's inexperience.

But Fitzpatrick's injury -- a broken leg, suffered last December -- no longer is keeping him out of drills. On Wednesday, he practiced for the first time in team drills, working behind Smith, who had a spotty day.

Fitzpatrick has at least one edge on Smith in that he already knows the offense, having played under Gailey from 2010 to 2012 with the Buffalo Bills.

For his part, Smith said he's pleased with his rate of development in Gailey's system. As for the competition -- or non-competition, depending on whom you ask -- Smith said he tunes out the noise.

"I always felt it was my job to go out and lead this team," he said. "That's the way I look at it. It's not going to change my approach or the way I go about my business. I look at myself as the type of guy who can lead this team and do the right things."