If it wasn’t difficult enough for Rex Ryan to decide between starting 23-year-old Geno Smith or veteran Michael Vick, the New York Jets threw another wrench in the mix by drafting quarterback Tajh Boyd.
It finally became clear in 2012 to the Jets that Mark Sanchez was not going to be the franchise quarterback that the team had hoped, and in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the organization hoped that it found its new field general by selecting Smith. After injuries sidelined Sanchez, the former quarterback for the West Virginia Mountaineers got the chance to shine in his first NFL season.
Without many targets, Smith struggled to have a productive first year. His 12 touchdown passes compared to his 21 interceptions were not very promising, and fans were frustrated at the lack of immediate success. A bright spot in his game was his ability to extend plays, and his 366 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns helped the offense stay competitive. With the signing of Vick, Ryan had to start to decide whether he wanted his young quarterback to continue to gain live game experience, or if he wanted the veteran Vick to lead the offense.
Boyd is not going to start right away, but he has been unfairly underrated. The detractors say that at 6-foot-1, 222-pounds, Boyd is severely undersized. Scouts also went as far to say that his mechanics are so bad that Boyd will have to completely re-learn how to be a quarterback and that he only looked good because he had the best wide receiver in college, Sammy Watkins, catching his passes.
I find these remarks extremely odd, as those are the exact criticisms of Johnny Manziel. Not only did Manziel have one of the best wide receivers in college on his team in Mike Evans, but some have stated that Johnny Football could never play in the NFL because of his current style and his less than ideal size. The criticisms are very similar, but Boyd was still a consistent signal-caller year after year with Clemson. He never passed for less than 3,000 yards, never threw less than 30 touchdowns and never had more than 13 interceptions in the three seasons that he started. Boyd was also a threat on the ground with his 10 rushing touchdowns and 400 rushing yards in 2013.
With the right time and preparation, there isn’t any reason why Boyd couldn’t eventually become an NFL starter. If Smith struggles and the boo birds start to come out, Ryan will replace him with Vick because of his inaction to replace Sanchez with Tim Tebow when Sanchez struggled. If Vick gets hurt, will Boyd get a chance to start or will Smith return as the head signal-caller? Quarterback Matt Simms will also have something to say about all that, and the Jets will have a media circus on its hands that will finally mean the end of the Ryan era in New York.
For whatever reason, the Jets continue to bury themselves in holes that are too deep to ever climb out of.