I have said it many times before, but I will say it again: It all starts up front. If the offensive line plays well, everyone else on the football team looks better. When the offensive line plays poorly, everyone looks worse. That starts with the quarterback.
We can talk all day and night about the decision-making of Geno Smith. We can talk about ball placement, getting rid of the ball quickly, pocket presence, or whatever else we want to. If the offensive line doesn’t improve in pass protection, Geno Smith has no shot to develop this season.
It’s already been seen this season.
According to Pro Football Outsiders, the Jets’ offensive line is ranked 25th in the league overall in pass blocking, with an adjusted sack rate of 9.1%.
Pro Football Focus gives the Jets’ line a pass blocking efficiency grade of 75.3, ranked 20th in the league. They have been credited with allowing 52 total quarterback pressures, which comes out to 13 pressures per game. None of these figures are conducive to ANY quarterback achieving success, much less a rookie quarterback.
The worst culprits have been on the left side of the Jets’ offensive line. Vladimir Ducasse, who thankfully has been benched, has been the worst, with a pass blocking efficiency of 92.2. D’Brickashaw Ferguson has been surprisingly poor with a 94.8.
These numbers have to get better for Geno Smith to have any shot.
The formula is clear, keep the quarterback on his feet, he plays well. Don’t and he doesn’t.
Geno’s best passer rating of the season was posted week three against the Buffalo Bills, when he posted an 89.9. How many times was he sacked that day? None. He was sacked 14 times in the other three games, and never posted a passer rating higher than 80.
Not only is it clear on paper, you see it on the field. When the pocket is clean, Geno Smith can step into his throw, and make any throw you like. He has a gun, and can hit anyone. But when that pocket breaks down, that is where the pocket awareness goes to pieces, his decision-making falls down a notch, and we have those beautiful turnovers.
No matter how much Geno Smith improves at decision-making, pocket presence, and getting rid of the ball quickly, will not matter if the offensive line is not consistent. If that pocket is not consistently there, nobody will be happy with Geno Smith, because he will not appear to have grown at all.