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WVUPros Summer Outlook: Geno Smith

Geno Smith’s current status with the Jets is examined, as well as what he needs to do to maintain the role of starting quarterback.

Last August, everyone knew about the incident that Geno Smith was involved in, breaking his jaw and giving Ryan Fitzpatrick center stage as the Jets quarterback for the season. Almost a year has passed since that infamous jaw break and Smith’s status with the Jets is still undetermined. Fitzpatrick and the Jets have yet to come to terms on Fitz’s contract, making Smith’s position and status with the team still so unknown.

Quarterbacks are supposed to be the leader of the team, and Smith showed during his time at West Virginia that he was more than capable of being the leader. Once Smith got to New York during his rookie season, the Jets offense did not perform as expected. One could argue that while the quarterback is the leader of the team, he also relies heavily on his receiving corps. The 2013 Jets receivers were not the strongest of receiving corps that season, and many believed that Smith under performed and did not live up to the expectations set for him. Smith’s 2014 season was seen with improvement upon his rookie season, but still not quite where he was hoped to be.

Going into the 2015 season, Smith was poised to have a pair of dream receivers in Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. This was supposed to be Smith’s season to shine in the NFL. As everyone knows, that just simply did not happen. Smith sat out the majority of the season, playing in only one game, several snaps, and quite obviously did not have the season he was expected to have. What would have happened had Smith not broken his jaw? Would his stats have improved? Would his performance have been as great as hoped last August?

According to an article from ESPN, Smith’s stats were practically shocking when either Eric Decker and/or Jeremy Kerley were on or off the field. For Smith, when either of the two receivers were on the field, the quarterback made 622 attempts compared to just 188 attempts with both off of the field. This simple statistic helps to show that Smith as the quarterback has more options for success when there are better receivers on the field to get to the ball. Smith’s completion percentage increased by over ten percent with either of the two on the field, at 60.5 percent, as opposed to 47.9 percent with both off the filed. The statistics show simply that while a quarterback is the leader of team, a quarterback does need quality receivers to be successful.

For Smith, the next matter to look at is the fan’s opinions and outcry of Jets fans. Recently, the Jets hosted a town hall of sorts, where owner Woody Johnson and coach Todd Bowles answered fan questions. Unfortunately, when Smith’s name was brought up, the crowd reaction was not a positive reaction. That being said, Smith needs to use this summer’s workouts and OTAs to show that he is the man for the job, and most importantly that he wants to be the man for the job. Smith needs to show both the fans and the coaching staff that he can be the quarterback to rely on come September.

Since the Jets are still uncertain as to what is going on with Fitzpatrick’s contract status, the smart thing to do is to prepare as if he is not going to be with the organization come September. The Jets need to use OTAs and the summer to prepare Smith, get him comfortable with the receiving duo of Decker and Marshall, and most importantly make him the man for the job.

If the Jets continue on in this limbo of who’s going to be the quarterback and questioning Fitzpatrick’s contact, the entire state of the offense will be in a state of unrest and unknown. Smith and the offense need to connect, and work on bringing a successful game to the field this fall, and not waste time worrying about what’s going on with contract negotiations.

Smith’s career with the Jets thus far has been a bit dramatic and tumultuous. It is known that he is capable of being a successful quarterback, just look at his time at West Virginia, but Smith needs to show that he is capable of making the most of what he’s working with on the Jets offense. Smith needs to connect with Decker and Marshall, and make his coaches and teammates see he is the top option for starting quarterback come fall.

The Jets also picked up Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in this April’s Draft, and so far they have yet to see anything dynamic from the rookie during OTAs. Being the rookie at OTAs is an intimidating situation, but for Smith, Hackenberg’s performance can help to further pave Smith’s way into the role of starting quarterback. Hackenberg’s performance has been less than stellar thus far, no one knows what is going on with Fitzpatrick and his contract, and Smith is just trying to show that he can have that breakout season, just a year later than predicted. With so much uncertainty, this is the time for Smith to show he is the best, and quite possibly the only, option for the Jets at quarterback.


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