Geno Smith: 5 reasons why he might fail in 2015
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks on from the bench during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
To say that quarterback Geno Smith‘s first two seasons with the New York Jets have been controversial would be an understatement. The former West Virginia star has struggled mightily to adopt his style of play to the NFL, causing many Jets fans to begin calling for his successor. Other fans, noting some of his statistical improvements from his rookie season to his second year (including cutting his interception totals from 21 to 13), expect him to take a big leap forward this season and to establish himself as an legitimate starter.
In preparation for the upcoming season, The Jets Press has extensively discussed Geno Smith, including his background, his potential, and how he has divided the Jets fan base. Many of these pieces express optimism for the future of the young signal caller.
Although it may not be as palpable for Jets fans to consider, its also essential to consider the many reasons Smith may fail to develop, and what actions the Jets organization should take if he proves he is not the player to lead this team in 2015 and beyond.
Here are 5 reasons why Smith will fail this upcoming season.
Next: 5. Coaching Instability
Jan 21, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets new head coach Todd Bowles speaks during a press conference at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA TODAY Sports
5. Coaching Instability
After having had two season to learn, develop and improve under a coaching staff, Smith will now have to work with a brand new coaching staff. Todd Bowles has replaced Rex Ryan as the Jets’ head coach, and even more important to Smith’s future, Chan Gailey has replaced Marty Mornhinweg at offensive coordinator.
Because Smith was successful at running a spread offense in college, many expect him to thrive in Gailey’s offense. While this is certainly possible and would be an ideal scenario for Jets fans, the final story may not be so simple.
Regardless of similarities, no two offenses are exactly the same. In order for Geno to hold onto his starting job, he will need to learn and adopt Gailey’s version of the spread offense quickly. It took Smith two seasons to show any signs of life when working with Mornhinweg. With Gailey, the margin for error will be even smaller.
Next: 4. Brutal AFC East Defenses
Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Lions defeated the Bears 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
4. Brutal AFC East Defenses
This off season, new general manager Mike Maccagnan has worked tirelessly to improve the Jets’ defense, adding veteran players Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, and Marcus Gilchrist.
However, the rest of the AFC East division has also been busy improving their respective rosters. The Buffalo Bills, a team that allowed the fourth fewest points per game of any team last season, looks to have an even better defense this year with the arrival of new head coach Rex Ryan. The Miami Dolphins also significantly improved their defense, signing monster defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a large free agent contract.
Facing the Patriots‘ duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is a major challenge for the Jets every year. This season, the rest of the division should be tough as well. Can Geno keep up, or will he wilt under the increased pressure? Only time will tell.
Next: 3. Inaccuracy
Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) reacts after throwing an interception for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
An NFL quarterback needs to be able to consistently complete most of his passes against a wide variety of defenses. Despite occasional flashes of greatness, Smith has been remarkably inconsistent as a passer. He was unable to complete 60% of his passes in either of his first two seasons.
Smith’s completion percentage did improve slightly from his 2013 to 2014 seasons (from 55.8% to 59.7%). However, a closer examination of his 2014 numbers will show that Geno is still miles away from becoming a successful quarterback.
His 2014 season was plagued with erratic play, including 6 games where he failed to complete even 54% of his passes. To say that those numbers need to be improved upon is a monumental understatement.
Next: 2. Turnover Prone
Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) fumbles the ball and recovers it against the Denver Broncos during the third quarter of their NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. The Broncos defeated the Jets 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
2. Turnover Prone
Because the Jets should have a powerhouse defense for the next few seasons, they do not need elite quarterback play in order to be competitive. What they do need, however, is a game managing quarterback who can move the football when necessary and limit turnovers.
Rather than manage long drives and keep the Jets in close games, Smith frequently plays sloppy and careless football. Over the past two seasons (30 games played), he threw a whopping 24 interceptions and lost 7 fumbles.
If Smith wants to remain the starter, he cannot keep averaging more than a turnover a game. All eyes will be on how he handles his turnover problem this upcoming season since if he starts struggling early in turnovers, the Jets can easily make a quarterback switch faster than a New York minute.
Next: 1. Better Options At Quarterback
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
1. Better Options At Quarterback
The Jets and fan base want to give Smith every opportunity to succeed in the NFL. This is the right move, as he has more experience than developmental prospect Bryce Petty and more upside than veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
All that being said, if Geno continues to falter, the Jets have a solid quarterback who can lead them to the playoffs in 2015. Fitzpatrick is far from elite, but he does have an established and consistent track record of above average play. He has completed at least 60% of his passes in each of his last 4 seasons, and has thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions in each of his last 5.
Given his lackluster history, it is highly likely that the Jets will consider benching Smith at some point this upcoming season. If Geno’s poor play does not knock the Jets out of playoff contention early, look for the Jets to try to salvage their season by giving Fitzpatrick the starting job.
In spite of his immense struggles, the Jets and their fans should certainly continue to hold out hope for Smith. He has shown flashes of solid play, and he certainly has the potential to thrive in a rebuilt offense. However, he will face many obstacles this upcoming season as Jets fans should temper their expectations for Smith in 2015.
Next: New York Jets 2015 Training Camp Profile: Devin Smith