As the Jets ended the season on Sunday, the buzz word that you kept hearing was “ascent”. A team that is on the “ascent”, or “ascending”. Whether it was Rex Ryan, John Idzik, or Woody Johnson, that was the theme of Sunday coming out of the win over the Dolphins.
A major reason for the good feelings is their young quarterback, Geno Smith. His play over the last two weeks of the year was nothing short of sensational. He played with a maturity that frankly, some of us weren’t expecting to show up so fast. Idzik and Ryan talked about Geno at their end of the year press conference.
First from Rex, on whether or not Geno Smith could be, in his view, part of a playoff team:
Well I think we’ve seen him make great strides as the season went on. When I talked about our team ascending and things, clearly his play was one of the reasons. It’s easy to say, ‘Well, let’s don’t turn the ball over.’ There’s a difference in protecting the football. Just like with any offense, we want to score, obviously. But we also want to prevent points and you do that by taking care of the football. I thought Geno improved by leaps and bounds in this area as the season went on. Some of the interceptions happened, but the way he protected the football in the pocket is something that is hard to teach a lot of times. But this young man really took to it. You might recall even one of my concerns was when he was at West Virginia, he fumbled quite a bit, and he improved that since probably maybe the fourth or fifth game just going forward. He did a tremendous job that way. And sometimes as a rookie quarterback, coverage is so tight in this league that if the ball’s not accurately thrown, bad things happen. I think you realize that here, that the skill level of the players playing in this league is much greater than what’s playing on Saturday. But I’m confident that he got better. I know he got better. And I believe he will get better in the future.
Here is Idzik talking about if he gets why there would be skepticism about the idea of the team being on the “ascent”, since there are still questions at the quarterback position:
Well again, I think we have answered some questions. Geno is a quarterback on our roster. He’s had a little bit of a body of work that is very encouraging. So, we know a little bit more, at least I know a little bit more about our team, as opposed to when I first got here. There have been very encouraging signs, with not only Geno, but others on our roster. So, we’re not starting from ground zero. It’s really no comparison to years past. We look at it as 2014, everyone’s on an even keel, but we know what we’re starting with in this building. We know what we’ve got in that locker room and because we’ve got that kind of spirit, we’ve got talent in that locker room, we’ve got spirit in that locker room, we’ve got togetherness. Those are all signs of optimism that we’re on the ascent. They’re real signs and I think we saw it play out this season. We saw how we improved down the stretch of the season, how we played hard in games that mattered to us down the stretch. So, those are all real positive signs going into 2014.
The future for Geno Smith and the Jets is only bright. Can’t wait to see it.