Geno Smith might be the Jets best backup plan
By Michael Pallas
Considering just how weak this year’s free agency class will be, the New York Jets might want to keep quarterback Geno Smith in a backup role.
The New York Jets have a lot to ponder when it comes to their quarterback situation. They could hope to draft a quarterback late in the 2017 NFL Draft and hope to catch lightning in a bottle like the New England Patriots did with Tom Brady and the Dallas Cowboys did with Dak Prescott. However, they could also keep another player around.
The Jets have taken a quarterback in five out of the last six drafts. They drafted Greg McElroy in 2011, Geno Smith in 2013, Tajh Boyd in 2014, Bryce Petty in 2015 and Christian Hackenberg last year.
Smith was never given a true shot at success. First off, he was drafted by former general manager John Idzik, who never really built a team around him.
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Let’s examine his top wide receiver targets in 2013-14. In those two seasons, his top wide receiver targets were Jeremy Kerley, Eric Decker, David Nelson, Stephen Hill, and Santonio Holmes (at the end his career). They combined for 246 catches for 456 targets, 3,180 yards and 13 touchdowns in two seasons.
In addition to not having a higher quality at receiver, his offensive line allowed him to be sacked 71 times. There’s no room for growth if you have that dangerous combination of bad offensive line and bad receivers as a whole.
The Jets need a veteran backup for Petty in case of injury. When you look at the free agent crop, there really isn’t much talent there. Given the situation in Buffalo, there’s only one quarterback that could become available that the Jets should consider, Tyrod Taylor. Otherwise there aren’t any quarterbacks available with the raw skills that Smith has.
Smith has NFL-caliber arm strength, athleticism and he can be accurate if given time. The number of times he was sacked went from 43 in 2013 to 28 in 2014. In addition, his completion percentage went from 55.8% to 59.7%.
It is true that Smith has made some boneheaded and immature decisions. However, the Jets kept Sheldon Richardson around with much more egregious mistakes. His ACL tear was bad luck. Maybe the right offensive coordinator could unlock Smith’s potential.
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He shouldn’t be the starter, by any means. However, being the backup could be good for the Jets, because there wouldn’t be a huge drop off in terms of skill set from Petty to Smith.