Geno Smith has made a lot of strides in the first six games of his rookie season. He has made many mistakes as well, as you would expect as a rookie quarterback grows up. We take the good and the bad, ..etc.
One of the biggest situations a rookie quarterback has to get used to is pressure. The speed of the game is much faster in the NFL, so the pass rushers are on the QB much faster. It is a tough thing for rookie quarterbacks to get used to, and you would expect the good and the bad as said rookie quarterback grows up.
That being said, let’s take a look at some interesting numbers regarding Geno Smith under pressure, once again courtesy of the advanced statistics from Pro Football Focus.
First let’s take a look at how he has performed when blitzed. The answer? Extremely well.
Here are his QBR figures each week, when blitzed: 75.9, 76.3, 130.6, 64.4, 97.6, 75.9 He has completed 58.2% of his passes while being blitzed, and only thrown two of his interceptions. Furthermore, only five out of 19 sacks taken have come on the blitz.
These are quite proficient numbers, especially for a player only about to start his seventh game as a pro. He gets the ball out of his hands when blitzed. He has really learned the “hot” reads, which allow him the chance to be accurate against the blitz. He is accurate against the blitz, as good as you can expect anyone to be. His numbers when being blitzed are actually some of the strongest numbers that Geno puts up, which is surprising for such a young player.
So that is something exciting to note. The interesting numbers, that aren’t quite as favorable, are his numbers when not being blitzed. Here are his QBR numbers when “not pressured”: 35.8, 17.7, 67.4, 97.8, 152.9, 35.8. It’s interesting to note these numbers, as in four out of six games, Geno posted a better QBR when being blitzed than when not being blitzed.
He has also thrown nine interceptions when not being blitzed. His completion percentage is 57% while not being blitzed, slightly lower than when he is blitzed. However, the most unfavorable of those numbers is the amount of sacks he has taken while not being blitzed. Out of his 19 sacks, 14 have come when not being blitzed.
This is not a great trend. We have talked about, at length, how Geno needs to improve his awareness in the pocket. Getting sacked when not being blitzed is clear evidence of holding the ball too long. He is suffering from an affliction that many young quarterbacks suffer from, the curse of thinking too much. See, when the blitz is on, instincts come into play, as the decisions have to be made faster. When there is no blitz, you have a lot of time to think. That brings on the over thinking.
Geno Smith needs to trust his instincts more, make his reads, and feel the pressure when the blitz is not on. If he can increase his efficiency, and improve his decision-making when he is not being blitzed, it will go a long way in taking Geno to the next step in his development.