New York Jets: Evaluating Rookie Year of Quarterback Geno Smith and Analysis of QB’s Future
Rookie Quarterback Geno Smith' Rookie Season
Sunday also marked the second game in a row that rookie quarterback Geno Smith did not throw an interception, the first time this season that he was able to go two consecutive games without doing so.
Rookie quarterbacks are supposed to have their up and downs. Transitioning from college ball to the NFL is an extremely tough task, not to mention getting familiar with your coaches and offensive schemes, defensive coverages, and the players around you. However, it is a growing belief that rookie quarterbacks are expected to come into the league and have the same success as veteran quarterbacks. This belief, is largely due to the success of quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, all who had much success in their rookie and sophomore seasons.
One could argue that in order to be great, one must exhibit greatness all throughout his career, even in his rookie career. While this argument could be supported, you could counter argue with the quarterback for the other side of New York, Eli Manning, quarterback of the New York Giants. Manning, who currently is on the bubble of being a hall-of-famer, had a horrendous first few seasons in the league. Now, two Super Bowl, and Super Bowl MVPs later, his name is brought up in discussions of Canton invitation recipients.
With all of this said, lets take a look at Smith's rookie-season statistics.
Geno Smith 2013 Statistics Along With Mark Sanchez Rookie Statistics
Smith finished the season healthy, playing all 16 games. In his 16 games, Smith had 247 completions on 443 attempts, for 3,046 yards. Smith threw 12 touchdown passes, in addition to 21 interceptions. Smith finished the season with a 55.8 completion percentage and a 66.5 quarterback rating. On the rushing side, Smith had 72 rushing attempts for 366 yards and six rushing touchdowns. Smith also had one reception for 13 yards against the Baltimore Ravens, if you want the full picture.
Now, lets look at Mark Sanchez' rookie season statistics. Sanchez had 196 completions on 364 attempts, for 2,444 yards. Sanchez threw 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Sanchez had three rushing touchdowns as well.
The Progression of Geno Smith
While Smith threw much more than Sanchez, thus those statistics cannot be compared, both quarterbacks touchdowns and interception numbers are nearly identical, with the touchdown count being identical. Sanchez threw one less interception, however, all threw that same amount of interceptions with about 100 less attempts. Nobody was calling for Sanchez' throat then?
Smith was plagued with turnovers, which was a main point of emphasis for Smith and the Jets during the year. However, the progression of Smith is where Smith, the Jets, and the fans, should focus on. In the beginning of the year, Smith was reluctant to use his legs, often staying in the pocket and taking sacks. Over the course of the year, Smith developed into more of a complete quarterback, running more and keeping plays alive. Smith also was more comfortable as the game went on, which obviously, will happen with an athlete once he gets more reps, a traditional progression track for a rookie. And, Smith cut down on his turnovers in the second half of the season, only throwing eight interceptions as opposed to 13 in the first half of the season.
Highlights of Geno Smith's Rookie Year
Arguably, Smith's best game this season was against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, when he threw for 199 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Smith also played well against the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in my estimation. Smith had four turnover free games and five games in which he rushed for 40 yards or more. Smith also had six games in which he had a rushing touchdown, and the Jets won all six of those games.
Analysis of Geno Smith's Rookie Year
Now, for the analysis.
There is no question that Smith has the intangible skill of heart, and the competitiveness and grit to play physical, throwing his body left and right, in order to help his team win. Smith was up ended, and did a front flip trying to get into the end zone on Sunday, as well as lowered his shoulder during a few of his runs -- a sign that Smith wants to win and will do whatever it takes to do so, even if it means sacrificing his body, something quarterbacks rarely do, and are taught not to do. Smith never had attractive statistics in any game, but never once talked about himself, he was just happy to get the win, and be a part of it. These are a few qualities that I'd want in my franchise quarterback, even if he doesn't have the best statistics in the game.
Smith was a rookie, and he made rookie mistakes -- a lot of them. However, he was a rookie, and it is OK that he made these mistakes. Now that the next time he will be stepping on an NFL field he will be a sophomore, this is where we will learn if he can be the future quarterback of the Jets. I am not saying he is the answer, nor that he isn't, but Smith rightfully deserves the chance to be the starting quarterback for the Jets in 2014. Bringing in competition for him will only make him better, but in my opinion, Smith fully deserves that spot.
The Net of All of This
Many times during this year, I have found myself calling for Smith to be benched, and to move in a different direction without him. However, we have to think about it realistically. In reality, Smith did not have a horrible rookie season, and he did it without any offensive weapons what so ever, and thats whats intriguing. When you think about it, Smith really had nobody to throw to who was a legitimate threat, and when you think about it some more, the Jets did not have an Pro Bowl Eligible player at a skill position, like almost every other team in the NFL does.
Smith, when you analyze the season as a whole, made great strides and showed progression, which is all you can ask for in a rookie quarterback. Sure, he didn't have the season that we all expected him to have, including myself, but quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick don't come around all too often. Smith had as good of a season you can have as a rookie, without offensive weapons, it'll be interesting how he plays after an offseason in which the Jets are destined to bring in players, to help the quarterback.
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