If any QB had a right to have a chip on his shoulder, it’s Geno Smith. If any QB would have been forgiven for cracking under the pressure it’s Geno Smith. But instead, going into Week 6, Smith is as cool and poised as he was the night he was embarrassed on national television when he wasn’t drafted in the first round. And when that happened, if you remember, Smith went home, grabbed the second outfit that he brought with him to New York and returned to Radio City Music Hall shaking off the folks who had laughed at him the night before. We should have known then that the kid was something special.
This is not to say that Smith has played perfect games, but he’s been more than competent for a QB thrust into a dysfunctional team and media environment. With an impressive win over a Falcons team that is struggling on defense, Smith once again held his composure on a national stage. I’ve seen 3 of Smith’s games this season and each time he’s been better than the game before. It seems like a lifetime ago that certain draft scouts scoffed at his work ethic and leadership ability. When was the last time a QB made a point of apologizing to his defense and emphasizing how critical they’ve been to the team’s success?
I’m not jumping out the window on Smith or making any bold proclamations. But I’ve been impressed thus far and I want to be part of helping Smith’s story be told in real time. RG3 was such a dazzling and dynamic player with an amazing story in his rookie season last year. Colin Kaepernick’s run to the Superbowl after Alex Smith suffered a concussion was something to behold. But while all of that was happening, Andrew Luck was recharging the Colts and Ryan Tannehill was quietly exceeding expectations down in Miami. Some folks are still unaware of this as attention remains on RG3 and Kaepernick. Both QBs are struggling to live up to their potential and match the bar they set last year. Smith’s accomplishments would be easy to lose in the shuffle.
What I’ve seen of Smith so far is a guy who is patient in the pocket and lets the game come to him. If anything, he trusts the Jets haphazard O line more than he should. His blind spot is more like a gaping hole at the moment but that can be improved. He’s reasonably fast in his reads and is confident enough on the move that not being truly mobile isn’t the limitation that it could be. And while some QBs are staring receivers in the eye down field and missing the trees for the forest, Smith rarely loses sight of guy nearest to him. Those traits alone are something for Jets fans to celebrate. His poise alone gives him a real advantage over Mark Sanchez and I’ve never been one to rip Sanchez unnecessarily.
Coming up, I expect the Jets to roll over the Steelers. But the Bengals and Saints will be a real test for Smith. Can he withstand the pressure? Can he and the Oline jell enough to keep him on his feet? Will Rob Ryan’s mix of looks confuse the rookie? I’ll be watching to see.