New York Jets Geno Smith Can Excel Under Chan Gailey


Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback

Geno Smith

(7) throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Geno Smith is entering his third season at quarterback for the New York Jets. Smith has had his ups and downs as we have all seen, playing games with a perfect passer rating, and playing games that make us think he doesn’t belong in the NFL. At the very least, after two seasons, it’s hard to tell what we have with Geno Smith. He has flashed greatness, but his inability to protect the football has frustrated all of us.

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What do the Jets do about Geno Smith? He will have legitimate competition in the form of Ryan Fitzpatrick. But with that, the fan base is pretty divided about this young man. Should the Jets even give Geno Smith another chance? There is certainly a group among us that thinks they should not. Still others think it is too early to give up on Smith.

Besides the age factor, we must take into account that he will be running a new system, thanks to the arrival of Chan Gailey. Sometimes, what makes a player “get it”, is being hooked up with the right coach, the right system..etc. A coach can bring something out of a player that other coaches cannot at times.

Can Chan Gailey be the guy that brings out the best in Geno Smith? Sure, why not? It wouldn’t be the first time that a quarterback found his best when hooked up with the coach best suited for his abilities. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Dec 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 20-12. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith was the first draft choice of the 49ers in 2005, with the first overall pick. With that, Smith came into the league with high expectations. Despite those expectations, Smith never threw less than 10 interceptions prior to 2011. He never posted a record over .500, or a completion percentage better than 60.5%. Alex Smith was on the border of being considered a bust.

In walks former quarterback, now head coach, Jim Harbaugh. Smith goes 13-3 as the starting quarterback in 2011, throwing for 17 TD’s vers us only five interceptions. Smith was throwing completions at a 70% clip before he was benched for Colin Kaepernick. Smith continued to “get it”, as he moved on with the Chiefs, throwing 41 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions in two years.

Alex Smith figured it all out, thanks to meeting up with the right coach, Jim Harbaugh.

Jan 29, 2014; New York, NY, USA; NFL former quarterback Rich Gannon speaks on Sirius XM on radio row in preparation for Super Bowl XLVIII at the Sheraton Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Rich Gannon wasn’t much more than a mediocre quarterback for a good portion of his career. From 1987 when Gannon arrived in Minnesota, through his time in Kansas City, Gannon didn’t do a lot to write home about. He threw for 16 touchdowns in one season, but matched it with 16 interceptions, only completing 52% of his passes. Gannon’s best completion percentage prior to playing in Oakland was 58% when starting most of the season.

In 1999, Gannon heads out to Oakland start for the Raiders and Jon Gruden. That first season, Gannon completed 59% of his passes, and threw 24 touchdown passes versus 14 interceptions. Over the next three years, even after Jon Gruden left, Gannon was even better. But, Rich never really figured out how to be a great NFL quarterback until he played under the direction of Jon Gruden.

This one may not be as familiar to some of our readers, particularly the younger ones. Above is Jim Plunkett, during his time with the Raiders. Jim Plunkett was drafted by the Patriots in 1971. He spent five years with the Patriots and two with San Francisco, never really finding his way. During that time, Plunkett threw for more touchdowns than interceptions only once, and his top completion percentage was just over 51%. Al Davis saw something in Plunkett and brought him to the Raiders.

His coach was Tom Flores, and his career took off. Take a look, particularly our younger readers who aren’t as familiar with Plunkett:

Notice the jump in completion percentage, as well as touchdowns versus interceptions after arriving in Oakland?  Despite the fact that Plunkett was on the wrong side of 30 years old, Flores was able to bring out his best, and Plunkett is a revered part of Raiders’ lore.

These are just a few examples, there are more.  Sometimes, players come into the league, and don’t “get it” right away.  They perform below expectations, until the coach comes along that can bring out the best in them.  Coaching is as much about finding the right psychology to get through to a player as it is about anything else.

It’s not that I am telling you that Geno Smith is actually Tom Brady.  What I am saying is that Geno Smith could very well find his game under Chan Gailey.  He is only two years in the league, and has shown flashes of brilliance.

Geno Smith could get it, with the right coach.  It has happened many times before.

Next: Week One of Free Agency: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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