Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) scrambles against the Minnesota Vikings in overtime at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Well it’s officially unofficial, Geno Smith barring injury will be the starting quarterback for the New York Jets on opening day vs. the Cleveland Browns. To be blunt, Smith has had his fair share of growing pains.
From turning the football over, missing meetings due to time changes, and just not being able to translate his collegiate success to Sundays. But not all hope is lost for the 3rd year signal caller.
Here are 5 reasons why this time around, he will shine for the Jets.
Next: 5. Chan Gailey
Dec 1, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) drops back to pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
5. Chan Gailey
Yes, the new offensive coordinator for the New York Jets is bringing a new offensive philosophy that will make or break Smith’s career. But all signs point to it making Smith’s career be rejuvenated.
The reason Smith was considered one of the top college quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft is because of the spread offense ran at West Virginia. Gailey runs a similar spread offense approach that should cut back on Geno Smith’s prowess for turning the football over.
Most college quarterbacks are coming out of these gimmicky spread attacks and it’s been one of the hardest transitions to the NFL. With Bryce Petty waiting in the wings, slowly developing his game in the background, Ryan Fitzpatrick healing from his broken leg injury, it’s now or never for Smith. Gailey will be a major reason why his time is now since everything will be made for him to succeed.
Next: 4. Better talent around him
Oct 5, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) with the ball as Carolina Panthers cornerback Antoine Cason (20) defends in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
4. Better talent around him
From Brandon Marshall to Zac Stacy, the Jets might finally have an offense that you need to plan for. That’s good news for Smith. During Smith’s two year run with the Jets so far, it’s fair to say he hasn’t had the game’s most elite weapons.
From David Nelson to Jeff Cumberland to Greg Salas, that leaves much to be desired. But now shifting Eric Decker back to his more comfortable No. 2 role, having an elite legitimate top-7 receiver in the league in Marshall and versatile Jeremy Kerley in the slot, he will have quite the receiving corps.
The sky is the limit for this offense. Again, reiterating the addition of Stacy to the run game can’t be diminished. Stevan Ridley, swiping him from the rival New England Patriots could prove to be a steal for the Jets.
Injuries and fumbles have been his demise so far in his young career, but there’s still time to change all that. The combination of these factors point to Smith having all the support he needs to succeed in his 3rd campaign with the Jets.
Next: 3. Strength of schedule
Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) reacts after an incomplete pass during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Jets 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
3. Strength of schedule
The NFL scheduling gods looked upon the Jets with favor this season. To start things off they open up against the Cleveland Browns at home. A winnable game if not the possibility to really come out the gates swinging. While peeking around the rest of the schedule without even blinking: the Redskins, Raiders, Jaguars, Texans, Titans, Giants all look like very winnable games.
Only once this upcoming season do they have back-to-back road games: against the Patriots and the Raiders. The pieces couldn’t have fallen any better for the Jets in terms of the schedule. Don’t misconstrue my interpretation. I’m not going off saying the Jets are going 16-0 in the regular season and are Super Bowl bound. Certainly there are some challenges on this year’s schedule in particular in the division.
The Bills and Dolphins both significantly improved their rosters. And even though the Patriots have appeared to get weaker on paper, they’re still the defending Super Bowl champions and have ruled the roost for well over a decade.
The Jets will have tough matchups with the NFC East as well. The Cowboys are a perennial Super Bowl contender. The Jets will also be tested in Week 2 when Todd Bowles and company make their first appearance in prime time on Monday Night Football against the Colts.
Overall, the Jets have to like their chances with the favorable schedule that has been laid out in front of them. For Smith in particular now is his time to prove the doubters wrong, especially when the football world watches in his big matchup against the Colts.
Next: 2. Full faith to deliver
Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) reacts on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
2. Full faith to deliver
Right? I mean there has to be a reason that Chan Gailey and company decided to anoint Smith the starter in mid-May right? If faith isn’t a confidence booster I don’t know what is. Analysts across the league have been going back and forth on the topic. Is it better for a quarterback to be worried about doing the best he can or is it better for a quarterback to be constantly looking over his shoulder worrying about being pulled any second if he makes a mistake?
I tend to lean towards doing the best he can. If Smith is constantly looking over his shoulder then he is going to be afraid to make mistakes. If you’re afraid to make mistakes when you get in a situation where you have a decision between the dump off and the deep throw, you’re going to go with the safer option. I don’t want Smith to play scared, I want him to play his best.
If that means anointing him the starter now so he can worry about getting the new playbook down and creating chemistry with his teammates then so be it. I also understand the other side of the coin. That competition brings out the best in competitors. I think everyone’s different and some guys need to be constantly kicked in the butt. But some guys don’t. I think this is the best decision to have made so Smith can just focus on winning football games.
Next: 1. Talented enough to truly succeed
Sep 14, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) celebrates his touchdown during the first quarter of a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
1. Talented enough to truly succeed
I know, I know. You’ve heard this SOB story before. But it’s true. Smith can make all the throws.
“He can make every throw in the book,” Gailey said. “He can make them all. You don’t find many that can do that, so you try to find a guy who can do that and give him every opportunity to be successful” (via New York Jets Press Conference).
I know Smith caught a lot of flack for the quote he’s “shown flashes of a pro-bowl quarterback” comment several months ago. Maybe pro-bowl was a bit risque, but he’s certainly shown flashes of what he’s capable of.
Geno Smith records a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Believe it, or not, he’s the only @nfl QB to do it all season.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 28, 2014
Yes it happened. Smith completed 20 of 25 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns. This is what Jets fans have been frustrated about, it hasn’t happened often as it should have been. But in a handful of games in his young NFL career, he’s shown these flashes of being a legitimate NFL quarterback.
Unanimously agreed on is the fact that it’s all mental. For these young guys it’s all about flipping the switch. Not thinking about it anymore, just reacting. A terrible example here that will make Jets fans cringe is Vernon Gholston, the pass-rushing bust out of Ohio State. He was never able to flip the switch as he had all the physical gifts to thrive in the NFL. But he was constantly thinking and could never get past that mental road block.
I believe Smith will be able to flip the switch this year and truly succeed in playing good football. The Jets are a 9-10 win team this year with an average quarterback. With an above average quarterback? There is no telling just how far Smith can take this team if he plays up to his potential.