On the surface of things, Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills appeared to be a regular division matchup, but underlying the matchup was a big matchup of two rookie quarterbacks that made the game so much more. Of course these two rookies are Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel, who were pitted in the first of two battles, which will likely decide the winner of the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Round 1 went in Smith’s favor as he threw a huge 69-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass that not only gave the Jets the win, but trounced the 33-yard pass that Manuel had thrown only 1:16 earlier.
More than just this one game, though, is the overall level of play through the first three games that bodes well in Geno Smith’s favor as he vies to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Smith has thrown for 801 yards, three passing touchdowns and picked up another touchdown on the ground so far. When one considers that Smith’s first two games were against two of the league’s best defenses in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots this is a remarkable achievement, but fails to mention all that has brought to the Jets.
What Smith has brought to the Jets in the absence of Mark Sanchez — whose career with the organization is likely finished — is a quarterback who has been smart with the football, but still has the capability to make a big play when his team needs it. It is Smith’s huge arm, which has allowed the Jets to stretch the field, in turn opening lanes for their running backs that have combined to rush for over 100 yards in each of the last two weeks.
The big arm of Smith has also allowed the Jets receiving corps, which before the season was lambasted by critics around the country, to sport two players-Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill– with over 200 yards through the first three games. Both players caught passes for over 50 yards against the Bills, displaying that with the right quarterback any group of receivers can be successful, and for that matter any team for successful.
Right now, the New York Jets are just that, a successful team, and they have the leader in the race for the offensive rookie of the year award to thank. Welcome to New York, Geno Smith.