Florham Park, N.J. - Ready or not, here he comes. Brace yourselves, the enigma known as Geno Smith is back under center. If you consider yourself a New York Jets diehard - a fan that will watch every game this season despite a mediocre record - you should be happy. Ryan Fitzpatrick was not getting the job done to collect victories. It was time for a change and even if you do not believe in Geno Smith, you might as well root for him to help the team collectively improve.
Ryan Fitzpatrick left the Jets no choice. When the team rallied around Fitzpatrick last season, and this summer after contract disputes, the journeyman quarterback was labeled a leader. Game after game - however - things grew worse and that leader was doing more harm than good. Todd Bowles was handcuffed. Fitzpatrick was his man but he simply could not leave an ineffective quarterback on the field in a season that is sinking quickly.
Jets fans should have wanted a change. The team could not have expected to change the results of the last four games with the same starters on the field. In the NFL, accountability must be a priority. Todd Bowles mentions it all the time in press conferences. Before New York's record collapsed even more, a change was necessary to switch things up - perhaps spark a fire before it is too late.
Geno Smith has taken plenty of heat since he arrived on the scene in 2013. He has carried himself on and off the field in ways that typical starting quarterbacks would not. But, he has managed to put the adversity aside and for that he should be commended. Smith - despite not always seeing eye-to-eye with the media and fans - has matured since the day he was drafted and spectators should realize this is his last chance to make it all count and prove himself.
"It's been amazing to see this guy grow. The thing Geno needed to learn is not anything to do with football. It's about coming to work everyday and being consistent," wide receiver Brandon Marshall told the media Wednesday. "Really punch adversity in the face."
The team is rallying around Smith. Why can't fans? At this point of the season - a 1-5 record - what is left to lose?
After watching the relationship between Jets fans and Geno Smith percolate for three years, there is no middle ground for both parties. Insanely, fans either cannot stand Geno Smith or love Geno Smith and it is difficult to put a finger on the logic behind it. The boos rained down on Smith in training camp practices. They rained down on Smith during the preseason. And almost certainly, the boos will be heard Sunday afternoon after one overthrown ball.
The media understands your frustration. Fans have every right to boo. After all, large amounts of money have been spent to witness the sinking Jets ship live. If you do not agree with a play or if you are upset, you are allowed to have your displeasure heard. But, if you are a true Jets fan you should want your team to succeed by any means. It has been 47 seasons since the team's first and only Super Bowl. It has been five seasons since meaningful January games were being played by this organization.
Whether you love him or not, fans should rally around Smith - not for the sake of liking him but for the sake of the team. If Geno Smith does well, the team will do well. You may want Fitzpatrick to start. You may want Bryce Petty to start. You may even want Christian Hackenberg to start. For now, it is Geno Smith's job to lose because he was the next man up. A change had to occur for the Jets. Geno Smith may still not be the answer for this team but for now, it is Smith's time to perform and fans should consider supporting him.
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)