New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has faced a ridiculous of pressure and expectations since being drafted in the 2nd round in April. He was involved in a drawn out soap opera of a quarterback competition with Mark Sanchez this summer, and only earned the starting job due to Sanchez’s injury.
However, Smith has done well to answer some of the questions about him in the Jets’ first three games, and he has led the team to a 2-1 start. Smith has thrown for 801 yards and 3 touchdowns thus far, as well as rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Smith still has quite a bit of improving to do, as do most rookies. Most observers would immediately point to his interceptions as the biggest cause for concern, but that is not addressing the root of the problem. The real issue here is Smith’s deep ball accuracy, and that is area in which he must improve.
Smith has thrown six interceptions this season, including one where Chris Ivory ran the wrong route and one where Smith simply never saw the linebacker on the slant. As far as the former goes, mistakes happen, and for the latter, Smith will learn to read defenses better as he gets more experience.
What that leaves, however, is four more interceptions which were all caused by an inaccurate deep throw. All three of Smith’s interceptions against the New England Patriots were the result of under-throwing a deep pass, including the pick by Aqib Talib that cost the Jets their final chance at tying the game. It was the same story Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, when Smith was short on a ball deep down the middle that was intercepted by Jim Leonhard.
However, Smith did throw two perfect deep passes to Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill for touchdowns. The pass to Holmes was dropped right over the outside shoulder against tight coverage, in a place only Holmes could get to it. On the throw to Hill, Smith hung in the pocket and took a shot as he hit the speedster Hill in stride.
Those two throws give reason to be optimistic that Smith can fix his deep ball accuracy. He will improve as he continues to develop chemistry and timing with his receivers and as his understanding of NFL defenses grows. Smith’s interceptions are the result of fixable problems, not a weak arm.
Adding a vertical element to the Jets’ passing attack would be an incredible boost to the offense, and the Jets showed their potential in that area Sunday. In order to have sustained success, Smith must become a more consistent deep ball thrower. If he can do that, he will become a much more complete quarterback, and the Jets will have a much better offense.