Almost before Geno Smith even hit the floor when he was sucker punched by a teammate in the locker room, former NFL folk hero Jared Lorenzen petitioned the New York Jets to sign him as their new QB. Smith will be out until October after suffering a broken jaw in the one-sided fight.
The 320-pound "Hefty Lefty," who hasn't played in the NFL since 2008 and has not played pro ball since he broke his leg in 2013 with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters of the Continental Indoor Football League, would like a shot. So would a hell of a lot of his followers on Twitter who have been buzzing about his intriguing yet highly improbable return to the NFL.
"I'm not in fighting shape, but I do know one thing about fighters: they cut weight quick," Lorenzen told ESPN's Ryen Russillo Wednesday, while refusing to answer any questions about his alleged current weight. "If they don't mind me working into shape, I think it's something we can do."
Lorenzen was always nimble for a big guy and Jets fans probably wonder how much worse than Smith he could be. But the likelihood of Lorenzen replacing him is supermodel slim.
Lorenzen was a pretty good backup QB for a while, he was an outstanding indoor football player, and he's an easy guy to root for. Because of his cartoonish size and uncommon girth for a QB, he's a football cult hero. Last summer he told ESPN about his lifelong struggle with weight and poor eating habits (he has a fondness for Little Debbie snacks).
Losing Smith for up to 10 weeks was embarrassing for the Jets simply because of how it happened. Getting cracked in the jaw by a teammate for a $600 plane ticket is so Jetsy. This is a team that brought you lowlights such as the Fake Spike, the Buttfumble, "I want to kiss you," the list of Antonio Cromartie's kids, and Bill Belichick's immediate resignation as head coach of the Jets before he went on to win four Super Bowls with the rival Patriots.
But beyond the shame of having their starting QB decked by a teammate, the Jets may actually be in better shape without Smith under center. This was supposed to be his make-or-break season anyway. The Jets signed veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick during the offseason as insurance in case the same old Geno showed up this summer. The Jets also have two rookie QBs on the training camp roster in Bryce Petty and Jake Heaps, longshots that could be diamonds in the rough. But this is the Jets, a team unfamiliar with the diamond district.
Smith was booed by Jets fans just days before getting knocked out because of a poor practice performance. The Jets were only going to wait so long for him to figure it out before moving on. Now a reserve linebacker with a short fuse has forced their hand.
The Jets are rumored to be considering former QB Mike Vick, journeyman never-was Matt Flynn, and Rex Grossman. Are any of those guys better than Smith, or more capable than Fitzpatrick? Probably not. So now the Jets are Fitzpatrick's team. This is why they signed him. But instead of inheriting the starting job because Smith played poorly, he's taking it because Smith can't take a punch.
Lorenzen would be a fun story, but he is not a serious option for a Jets team looking for respect and wins. It turns out that the quickest path to achieving respect and wins may be with Fitzpatrick under center.