The great thing about the NFL offseason is that it is a time filled with hope and optimism. Everybody is 0-0, and in theory, yeah, everybody has a chance to make it to the big dance at the end of the season. During this time of year, every player in the league – and every fan who roots for them – has visions of seeing their team hoisting the Lombardi trophy following a big Super Bowl win. Realistically though, barring some catastrophic breakdown in the machinery of the Universe, only a handful of teams actually have a shot to raise that trophy and declare themselves champions.
And though he obviously believes otherwise – or perhaps he was merely polishing his stand-up comedy routine – QB Geno Smith and his New York Jets are most definitely not one of those handful of teams.
In a recent interview with Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Smith was quoted as saying,
“I feel good about our team making a Super Bowl run. You know, why not us?”
Setting aside the fact that HC Rex Ryan usually makes the same tired Super Bowl predictions for his team year in and year out, the reason the Jets have no realistic shot at a title is simple – Geno Smith is their starting quarterback.
Now granted, Smith isn’t the one and only reason New York shouldn’t start clearing space on their shelves for the Lombardi trophy – they actually have quite a few problem areas on their roster – but he’s a big one. Super-Bowl-winning teams usually don’t feature starting quarterbacks with 55 percent completion rates, throw 12 touchdowns to 21 interceptions, and have QB ratings of 66.5 – the lowest rating among starting quarterbacks in the NFL in 2013. Overall, the Jets offense ranked 29th in points scored with a very anemic 18.1 points per game, and 25th overall in total yardage per game. Suffice to say, the Jets offense was pretty terrible in 2013.
Lest anybody think the Jets’ problems start and end with Smith though, New York had plenty of other problems to contend with. Namely, a defense that gave up a lot of points and a lot of yards per game. Though their run defense was solid, they had the 22nd ranked defense against the pass, giving up nearly 250 yards per game, and gave up nearly 25 points per contest. With a defense as porous as that, a team isn’t going to win a whole bunch of games.
But a lot of the blame does come down to Smith’s inability to move the ball and put his team in position to score. Obviously, if you can’t score, you can’t win. He had extreme difficulty reading defenses, using sound judgment and making the smart throws – as evidenced by his 21 picks and poor completion percentage.
Smith was so bad last season that a recent ESPN poll of league insiders has him ranked as the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. Even Jets legend Joe Namath doesn’t like Smith as a starting QB, saying the following in a recent interview:
“I don’t see anything outstanding about him. He’s not an outstanding passer. He’s not an outstanding runner. He’s good, but nothing jumps out at me with intangibles that I’m not aware of because I’m not there on an everyday basis.”
And based on his 2013 performance, that seems to be a pretty accurate assessment.
The Jets have added some interesting pieces in former Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson, and former Denver Broncos WR Eric Decker. Both were brought in with the idea that they will vastly upgrade the offense and allow them to be one of the more potent units in the league. However, it’s not going to happen with Smith under center if he’s as wildly inconsistent – and as borderline terrible – as he was in 2013.
Smith may be able to steal Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s ‘Why not us?’ line, but unless he can find some way to steal his game as well, it’s going to be another long season in the Big Apple – one without a run to the Super Bowl in its near future.