Geno Smith was once a Heisman hopeful and first round pick lock. If it wasn’t for the Buffalo Bills taking EJ Manuel, then the rookie would be the first QB taken off the board last year. Instead, Smith fell into the lap of my beloved New York Jets.
At this point, my readers will know the tangled love affair I have for Smith. The quarterback to my alma mater, West Virginia University, lead the team to a romp of Clemson University in the Orange Bowl, posting 70 points! The honeymoon, however, ended after a 5-0 start to the 2012 campaign (as we all know, ending snowy and ugly in the Bronx).
Smith was the best quarterback on the board; scouts loved his arm strength, but no one took a chance during Round 1. I only hope that the perennial chip on his shoulder stays for a long time because of it.
Why do I reference all this? If you look at this past weekend, Smith struggled. He showed he was a rookie, he showed that he needs help and yet, look, Colin Cowherd tweeted “Geno Smith has a grown up arm.” Smith is ready to take that next step. Although I was one who truly did not want him starting Week 1, he has shown his potential. I believe that over time, this kid will become something great; not tomorrow, not next week, but over time. So far, all my Jets fans reading, I know that plenty of you do not have patience, nor do I, but Smith is a project with immense potential.
Look at the tape — much like the back end of last college football season, this past week showed both of what he is truly capable of, but that he has his down falls. Not every quarterback is perfect (cough cough Peyton Manning), but you have to show more upside in the league, otherwise you’ll be the next Tim Couch, JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf and so on. Through four games next to Eli Manning, Geno is a turnover machine. That’s not good! Let’s all take a deep breath and look at that stat in the correct context. Forced throws, receivers that can’t keep their hands on the ball, and an offensive line that just looks like they want to give up. So again, although very poor on paper and inn game, one must realize that this kid can play; please take this all with a grain of salt and look at the big picture. As long as he progresses week by week, much like a Ryan Tannehill, he will do just fine in a league that clearly now plays to his strengths. He has the arm and the legs, and trust me, he has the heart!
In the aftermath of Sunday’s loss, reporters all wanted to huddle around Geno and talk and question and question and question. Smith does not get frazzled or rattled by the New York media, as much as they try, and he has stayed cool. If you watch his post practice interviews, he uses the words like “ball placement,” “progress” and “correcting things.” Those are all good buzz words you expect out of a rookie QB. Smith also went on to say that the system in New York is a lot different from the system in Morgantown. His role is different, and he needs to adjust. He wants to work on his mechanics, his physics, and his mental part of the game. Smith also touched on apologizing to the defense, getting better to correct all these mistakes, and get ready for the Atlanta Falcons. I believe that Monday’s game will show a lot of his maturity and how far he has come since that last snap last December in the Bronx.
The case for Smith to be a franchise QB has been made; he is there, the organization simply needs to surround him with talent and coaches that will help him grow. This season, as I have previously stated, is a building block year, not a rebuilding year. This team must gain momentum and know what needs to be fixed in order to make the playoffs in 2014. One thing is for sure, the quarterback position is set.
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