New York Jets legend Joe Namath believes Geno Smith will be the team’s starting quarterback this season.
Speaking at an event honoring vice president Joe Biden, Namath said Smith will be the Jets’ starter even if Ryan Fitzpatrick returns.
“I think Geno’s going to be the starting quarterback no matter if Fitzpatrick comes back or not,” Namath said, via Newsday.
Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a surprising 10–6 season in 2015. The journeyman quarterback enjoyed a career year, posting career highs in passing yards and touchdowns. However, Fitzpatrick and the Jets have been embroiled in a contract dispute since the end of the season, with the free-agent quarterback seeking more money.
“We talk about Fitzpatrick not signing a contract with the Jets,” Namath said. “Well, you got to figure as smart as he is, he just doesn’t recognize that it’s important to play with a good team. Last year was the first time he played with a good team in his career, and he excelled.”
Smith was supposed to be the Jets’ opening day starter last year, but was injured at the start of the season after being punched in the face by a teammate. Fitzpatrick remained the starter after leading New York to a 4–1 start.
In 31 career games, Smith has completed 57.9% of his passes, with 27 touchdowns, 35 interceptions and seven fumbles.