As we continue to rank the best players on the New York Jets, we reach their most polarizing player. Quarterback Geno Smith endured a rough rookie season, but the Jets still believe they can develop him. There are sure to be plenty of people that think Smith doesn’t deserve to be on this list at all, and the truth is that he barely made the cut. However, Smith did quarterback the team to eight wins, far more than most expected, and that has earned him a spot on this list.
You don’t need me to tell you that Smith’s overall stats are not pretty. He completed just 55.8% of his passes for 3,046 yards, 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Smith was sacked 43 times and fumbled 7 times. On the bright side, he did rush for 366 yards and 6 touchdowns, with the latter figure tying him for the NFL lead among quarterbacks.
Despite the struggles, Smith showed some flashes of what he is capable of. He completed 16 of 20 passes for 199 yards, 3 scores and no picks in a win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5, which was considered a big upset at the time. He came on strong over the final four games as well, completing 58.6% of his passes for 740 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs while rushing 31 times for 186 yards and 3 TDs as the Jets finished 3-1. While those numbers aren’t dazzling, they certainly represent a winning formula.
Obviously the Jets brought in Michael Vick to compete with Smith this offseason, and at this point in their careers it’s pretty clear Vick is the better player. That being said, Smith still has the inside track to start, as he should. Smith still has a chance to develop, and he would be far from the first quarterback to have a disastrous rookie season and become a quality player.
The Jets are not tied to Smith, as his cap hit is less than $1.6 million in each of the next three seasons. He is probably facing a make or break season as the Jets’ starter despite the fact it’s only his second year, and the Jets are counting on him to take a huge step forward. In the weak AFC, the Jets believe they have a playoff caliber roster at every position except quarterback. Whether or not Smith reaches the next level is the key to the Jets’ season.
Right now, this feels like a fair spot to rank Smith. He receives an absurd amount of criticism because he plays for the Jets, a team that many in the media love to pick on. However, he did win eight games last year and closed the season on a high note. He has a very long way to go, but Smith is not as bad as he is so often made out to be, and the Jets are hoping he will make significant strides in his second season.