Picture yourself completing an internship of your choice. Now obviously the reason you participated in this internship is because you clearly have an overwhelming interest in this field of study, or in your opinion this is the field in which you believe your talent will reel in the largest amount of money, but for arguments sake we'll stick with the first option. You feel that you're well prepared to succeed beyond this internship and land the actual job in which you have been working for. You're of the mindset that you possess the required knowledge, ability, and work-ethic to prosper at the next level. Now you finally get the job, but your co-workers at the next level aren't as talented as you initially expected, thus making it more difficult for you to thrive in your first year, so the quality of work you collectively put forth is extremely inconsistent.
This is Geno Smith's roller coaster ride of a rookie season in a nutshell.
Firstly let's remember that the experts over at ESPN had the Jets ranked as the 32nd best team in the NFL, which is drop dead last. The New York Jets were commonly thought of as a team that overachieved because seemingly 90% of football 'Murica projected gang green to finish anywhere between 2-14 and 6-10. Mind you all, this was frequently under the assumption that Mark Sanchez would be the Jets starting quarterback heading into the season.
They finished 8-8, had meaningful games in December, was even a wild card front runner late into the season, oh and by the way these Jets had key upset victories at home against the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, and on the road we were given Monday night in Atlanta, and week 17 in Miami, effectively knocking the Dolphins out of playoff contention. With the latter victory the Jets finished 2nd in the AFC East division as well.
Now then let's go right to the numbers, because we're all geeky for statistics.
- Geno Smith's stat-line is as follows:
- Games (started): 16 (16)
- Completions--attempts--percentage: 247 completions, 443 attempts, 55.8%
- Passing yards: 3,046
- Passing TD's--INT's--QB rating: 12 TD's, 21 INT's, 66.5 rating
- Carries--rushing yards--average--rushing TD's: 72 carries, 366 rushing yards, 6 rush TD's.
- 18 total touchdowns to 25 total turnovers (includes 4 fumbles lost).
- By the way he's an intriguing statistic: The Jets were 6-0 when Geno Smith ran for a touchdown.
Let's take into account these three key things: Geno Smith is a rookie learning on the job, his offensive weapons were collectively the worst in the NFL, and a post bye week three game stretch really deflated his statistics overall. Jets leading receiver Jeremy Kerley was absent in this stretch
- Week 11 @ Buffalo: 8-23, 34.8%, 103 passing yards, 0 TD's, 3 INT's. 1 fumble lost.
- Week 12 @ Baltimore: 9-22, 40.9%, 127 passing yards, 0 TD's, 2 INT's.
- Week 13 vs. Miami: 4-10, 40%, 29 passing yards, 0 TD's, 1 INT's.
Without this collection of misery and mediocrity his season numbers certainly look much improved: 15 interceptions as opposed to 21, a 58.2 completion percentage which is a significant upgrade from his actual percent of 55.8, and so on.
It's worth mentioning that the entire team had played poorly aside from some bright moments from the defensive front seven. The offensive line in particular had played poorly during this stretch. In fact Smith was pressured on nearly 50% of his drop-backs at this point of the season.
Think about that...
You leave your house to head to the grocery store every single day, and every other day you step outside there's a giant Rottweiler waiting for you while you're supposed to go through your daily routine in one piece. It's not all your fault though is it? Tell your neighbor to lock up Rocky in his cage, tell your offensive line to give you more time.
Now I'm not trying to completely absolve Geno Smith but as I always tell people, the man was not exactly poised to succeed with this offense and this collection of receivers. I've said one million times over, it's not just who you draft, it's where you put him. It's not just who you are, it's where you're at. You mean to tell me had he fallen even further to the 45th pick possessed by the Arizona Cardinals that he wouldn't have had a much better season? What about Minnesota at 23rd, 25th, or 29th? Both of these teams had more weapons at their disposal than the New York Jets with guys like; Greg Jennings, and Larry Fitzgerald in between them.
With that being established, he did have some damn good moments during the season, and some of his better performances look very promising coming from a rookie whom was playing with fire all year long. In actuality some of his best football followed these lackluster performances, which concluded with a benching. Coincidentally, Jeremy Kerley--Jets leading receiver at a mere 523 receiving yards despite missing 4 games, also ranked only 86th (seriously) in the NFL--had returned from injury for these showings:
- Week 14 vs. Oakland: 16-25, 64%, 219 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 5 carries -- 50 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
- Week 15 @ Carolina: 15-28, 53.6%, 167 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 6 carries -- 44 rushing yards
- Week 16 vs. Cleveland: 20-36, 55.6%, 214 passing yards, 2 TD, 10 carries -- 48 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
- Week 17 @ Miami: 17-27, 63%, 190 passing yards, 10 carries -- 44 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
This is what you want to see out of your rookie quarterback, improvements at the end of the season.
For good measure I'll throw in what was probably his best performance, Monday night in Atlanta:
- Week 5 @ Atlanta: 16-20, 80%, 199 passing yards, 3 TD's, 3 carries -- 21 rushing yards.
There were times where Smith did more with less, and others where he couldn't have done less.
Geno Smith's yin and yang like rookie season statistics look pedestrian as a whole, but the eye-test tells an entirely different story.
People seem to overlook that Smith has everything you want in a quarterback from a physical standpoint; Arm strength, enough arm strength to make every throw, size, extremely mobile, superb athleticism.
Now the 23 year-old quarterback needs time to grow, and weapons to throw to. Don't misinterpret me either, he obviously needs polishing within certain areas of his game like his accuracy and decision making, but like any other young quarterback in NFL history he primarily needs improvement in the mental aspect of his game; Which would include key quarterbacking elements that pertain to his pre-snap reads, progression reads, and things of that nature.
My final thought is that trading for or drafting another quarterback with the intent to automatically start him over Geno Smith is non-sensible and incredibly asinine, especially considering what you're working with at the moment from a weapons perspective. He has the potential, and needs substantial help. You need to fairly assess how Geno Smith is with actual NFL starting caliber weapons before you can make a full judgment on if he's "the guy."
Frankly anyone who actually knows the game of football will tell you that normally you won't truly know if you have your quarterback of the future until year three.
The Jets need to get some quality weapons--I'll tell you just who soon enough--and be patient with Geno Smith. He can really be something, but like any other quarterback, he needs some help.
So don't draft another one, give the man a chance to put in the work. No quarterback in this draft is guaranteed to be better than Geno Smith, none.
Time and weapons...