The Jets quarterback position suddenly has more question marks surrounding it than it has in the last five years combined.
No, that's not an exaggeration.
Look at it this way: New York's starting for this Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars may not even be on the roster yet.
On Monday, Jets coach Todd Bowles provided some, eh, clarity on the walking wounded that suddenly occupy the QB's meeting room. Against the Raiders on Sunday, both starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and backup Geno Smith went down with injuries. Fitzpatrick tore ligaments in his left (non-throwing) hand's thumb, while Smith suffered what Bowles described as a "big bruise" on his (non-throwing) left shoulder.
So, that leaves Bryce Petty as the only healthy Jets quarterback.
"Right now, not very high," Bowles said when asked his confidence level in Smith or Fitzpatrick playing Sunday. "I mean, it's Monday, so it's the day after. Those guys are pretty sore. I'll have a better feel come Monday."
Fitzpatrick was injured on the first series against Oakland when he scrambled and dove forward. Because Fitzpatrick dove, and didn't slide, defender Charles Woodson was allowed to hit him. Woodson targeted the ball in Fitzpatrick's left hand, but instead hit his thumb, causing the damage. While it's not entirely known when Smith suffered his injury, it appears it happened on a 29-yard run up the right sideline. Instead of stepping out of bounds, Smith continued to sprint up the field. Raiders cornerback David Amerson caught up to Smith and then applied a big hit that sent the quarterback flying out of bounds.
Smith remained in the game, but a couple possessions later left after taking another big shot, this time in the pocket.
"I thought in both cases they both should have slid, and I'll say that again," Bowles said. "The competition in those guys in the heat of the battle is hard to tell, but we've got to be smarter than that for the good of the team.
"You can't fault the competitiveness, we just have to play a lot smarter."
Bowles said the issue right now with Fitzpatrick is the fact he can't grip the football with his left hand. While he can handoff with his right and throw fine (Fitzpatrick's right-handed) he can't take snaps. As Bowles indicated, it's not realistic to think New York can simply play Sunday's game against Jacksonville entirely out of the shot gun.
With Smith, playing through his injury is a bit different than Fitzpatrick. For Fitzpatrick, Bowles said it's about his pain tolerance and if he can do it. In Smith's case, it's if the Jets want to risk it. At the moment, there is no structural damage to Smith's injured shoulder. But Bowles said if he gets hit the wrong way, all that could change.
"If he takes another hit like that, he can get the same result or possibly worse," Bowles said. "You're still weary of it even though it's not the throwing arm."
Since both Fitzpatrick and Smith are in, as Bowles described, "the same boat," with their health, the team has started to make the needed calls to bring in help. While Petty knows the offense having been with the team since his selection in the fourth round of this year's draft, he's viewed as a player that isn't ready just yet. Petty was drafted a project, someone that would sit and learn for two-to-three years before anyone ever thought of putting him on the field.
While Bowles wouldn't name many, he did say the Jets had discussed bringing back Matt Flynn, who spent a portion of training camp with the team before being cut during the 53-man roster cutdown. Other options, while not confirmed, could include Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon, the Baltimore Ravens Matt Schaub or the Tennessee Titans Zach Mettenberger.
What Flynn brings that the others don't is at least a minimal knowledge of the playbook. In Glennon, Schaub, Mettenberger or any other quarterback's case, that particular player would be required to learn an entirely new offense in just four days. That's a difficult task no doubt, especially considering the fact Bowles didn't rule out the possibility of starting whatever quarterback is signed or acquired.
If the Jets elect to go the trade route, a deal needs to be ironed out before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline.
"We're looking at everything right now," Bowles said.