There has been endless debate about the potential of Geno Smith to be the long term answer at quarterback for the New York Jets since the team drafted him in the second round in April. Smith has been up and down in the early part of his rookie season, displaying some very good talent, but also making quite a few mistakes.
Last night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons was the best of Smith’s young career, and his performance in that game shows that he is the quarterback of the future for the New York Jets. Smith finally played a turnover free game, and the result was him completing 16/20 passes for 199 yards and 3 TDs, as well as leading the Jets on a two-minute drive for the game winning field goal.
Through five games, Smith is completing 60.3% of his passes for 1,289 yards, 7 TDs and 8 INTs while leading the Jets to a 3-2 record. Obviously, turnovers remain the biggest concern for Smith, but last night’s performance showed that he is capable of playing mistake free football.
People jumped on Smith early with the turnover issues, partly because the New York media market leaves no room for error and partly because last year’s sensational rookie class made everyone forget what rookie quarterbacks normally play like (and partly because everyone seems to want the Jets to fail, which I don’t really understand, but that’s not important here).
I have written this several times myself, as have countless others defending Smith, but I’ll say it again. Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions and went 3-13 in his rookie season. I’m not saying Smith will become Manning, but the point is that a rough start doesn’t indicate much of anything about future career success.
When I say that Smith is the Jets’ QB of the future, that doesn’t mean that he will become a perennial Pro Bowler and lead the Jets to a couple Super Bowls. What it does mean is that the Jets have found the player that they are going to build around. There is no quarterback controversy in New York anymore, and there shouldn’t be one anytime soon. Smith has proven that he is the right player to lead this franchise forward, and the Jets must now support him.
Another point that is important to address is how this is different than four years ago when everyone anointed Mark Sanchez as the franchise QB. Sanchez was nothing more than a game manager on two outstanding football teams that needed somebody to play quarterback. These Jets are not nearly as talented as the 2009 and 2010 versions, and they are winning games with Smith and because of Smith, not in spite of him, like those earlier teams were with Sanchez.
Smith’s excellent display last night was an example of the player he can become. He is still learning a pro style offense and how to read defenses, all while adjusting to the speed of the NFL and playing with a very average receiving corps. However, he has shown his ability to be calm under pressure, make all the throws and most importantly, win games.
If Smith can continue to develop and play like he did against the Falcons, he will become a very good NFL quarterback. The Jets have been searching for a long term solution at quarterback seemingly forever, but they have finally found one in Geno Smith.