Ravens React To Jets Quarterback Switch To Geno Smith


After Wednesday's practice ended, Head Coach John Harbaugh got the news that the New York Jets plan to start quarterback Geno Smith over Ryan Fitzpatrick this Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Harbaugh wasn't too surprised. He and the team had already put in some Smith-oriented type gameplans in place and practice those plays.

"We were prepared for that," Harbaugh said. "[Our preparation] won't change a ton, because I think the offense is going to remain essentially the same with what they do. It will nuance a little bit in certain directions."

Fitzpatrick leads the NFL with 11 interceptions in six games this season. His quarterback rating of 63.4 is the worst in the league.

He had a disastrous six-interception game against the Kansas City Chiefs and threw another pick in a 28-3 loss on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals, a game which he was yanked from by the end and replaced by Smith.

At first, Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles said it was just a temporary change, but he confirmed the change Tuesday.

"I think we needed a change on offense," Bowles said. "We have two evenly good quarterbacks and Ryan wasn't playing as well, so we decided to make the change and go with Geno. ... He's not much different. I think he's different in the sense that he is probably a little more athletic in that regard, but they both can make all of the throws."

The Ravens respect Smith and his ability. And Smith has a lot of experience with the Jets receivers.

"[Smith] was their starting quarterback," safety Lardarius Webb said. "He's not a starter because stuff happened in the locker room. I think they're going to keep the same game plan, and he can get it done."

What Webb is referring to is a fight in the Jets locker room during last year's training camp. Smith was in line to to be the Jets' starter before his jaw was broken by a punch in the face from his now former teammate, linebacker IK Enemkpali.

In his first year with the Jets, Fitzpatrick took over and played well in 16 starts, throwing for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. That performance earned him a new one-year contract with the Jets this offseason after an extended holdout.

While Fitzpatrick was holding out, Smith was running the offense. So he has a lot of familiarity and work already put in with his targets.

Now with Fitzpatrick struggling, the Jets want to see what their 2013 second-round pick can do. Smith was 4-of-6 for 31 yards in relief of Fitzpatrick on Sunday, but also fumbled and was picked off by Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu in his limited time.

Baltimore has a little inside information on Smith. New Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg coached Smith during his two years as a starter in 2013-14. Smith threw for 3,046 yards and had 12 touchdowns to 21 interceptions as a rookie. He threw for 2,525 yards and tossed 13 touchdowns to 13 interceptions as a sophomore.

"I think he has the talent. I know he has the talent," Webb said. "He has the guys around him. He has Brandon Marshall and a couple of guys that catch the ball. When you have Matt Forte in the backfield, you can take some of the pressure off of him and just run the ball a lot."

The Ravens have the NFL's best run defense, and they will try to make the Jets one dimensional as they do against every team. Part of that run defense is second-year outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith, who said Smith was his host on a college visit to West Virginia.

"I'll get a chance to see him, get close and probably sack him," Smith joked. "He did a great job [as host]. I'll give that to him."

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