Optimism is nice, but firmly believing New York Jets fourth-year quarterback Geno Smith will be much improved in 2016 is something different.
It’s simply amazing. It really is.
The New York Jets and their fans have been waiting, just aching at the chance to stumble upon a quarterback who can consistently hold down the fort. The painful process of not feeling what it’s like to have a decent quarterback employed has left many scars in its wake.
In 2015, the Jets stumbled upon a guy in Ryan Fitzpatrick who threw for 31 touchdowns – a Jets single-season record. The man didn’t have a training camp, nor any quality first-team prep work and stepped right in under Nick Mangold‘s behind.
Now, because he wants to be paid like a starting NFL quarterback, many fans have turned on him. Jets fans suddenly believe they have the right to be “QB picky.”
Be careful what you wish for. You just may receive it.
Think, though: What actual evidence is there that Geno will be an improved QB this time around?
Has it been the rave reviews Smith has received these last two months? Many onlookers point to this support as a reason for optimism in relation to Geno the starter.
“He’s playing faster, he’s thinking faster,” quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo said, via Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press.
“Being in the system a year, he’s light years ahead of where he was last year,” Todd Bowles said, via Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. “As far as being confident, operating the system, understanding the checks, running the offense, he’s night and day where he was.”
On the other hand, there are also many examples of Fitz support:
“Ryan is a big part of our success,” Revis said, via Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “He definitely is. He came here and he’s broken a bunch of records in the quarterback category. He was a big part of our offense. This [contract standoff] has been going on all offseason, and we’re waiting for him to come back.”
“The way we communicate, the way we practice together, the way we bring other guys together, I’ve never seen that anywhere else — and I’ve been a lot of places and I’ve had a lot of quarterbacks,” Marshall said, via Brian Costello of the New York Post. “That’s the toughest thing for me when I think about him potentially putting on another jersey. What we had and what we have is hard to create. It took us almost a year to do that, well, six months to do that. Most of the time, it takes guys a couple of years. We feel like we’re really close. We have a great defense. We have a consistent offense. We have great coaches. All we need to do now is continue to get more reps with the same guys.”
Not only the many words of support for FitzMagic, but general Mike Maccagnan anointed him the starting quarterback at the conclusion of the 2015 season.
The point is, the saga continues with no end in sight.
The bigger point is, the Jets will do anything to put pressure on Fitzpatrick during this crucial time of negotiating.
This is a football team, first and foremost. Despite the love Brandon Marshall might have for his guy, he won’t be a disruptive part of the team. Not anymore, at least, at this point in his career. He’ll support the 25-year old QB.
The same notion can be said for coaches and, to an even higher degree, the front office.
This doesn’t mean you, the fan, should be hoodwinked into thinking that Smith is this “much improved” quarterback.
What have you seen in the two seasons Geno Smith played quarterback for the New York Jets? Has it been a guy who seems to be on the verge of breaking through, or a guy who just doesn’t have “it” – the one overriding quality it takes to be a starter in the National Football League?
Many take umbrage with the idea Geno never had a chance to succeed because his weapons were never up to snuff. He never had that difference maker like B-Marsh out wide.
The problem is, weapons don’t affect a QB’s decision making.
Take Week 2 of the 2014 season for example. After a solid 13-10 opening week win against the Indianapolis Colts, Geno and the Jets had the Green Bay Packers on the ropes. Things were going swimmingly after Smith found Eric Decker for a 29-yard TD:
Smith recognized the all out blitz and found his man in Decker in stride to give the Jets a shocking 14-0 lead.
However, what Geno does so well here, never lasts the entire game.
For every one spectacular read Smith makes, five more will follow that are deplorable. His physical attributes are off the charts in comparison to Fitz’s, but his mental makeup could even begin to compare – and mental makeup at the QB position in 2016 NFL means everything.
Later in the game, with the Jets leading 21-16, Smith led a five wide receiver, no back formation. Green Bay rushed three, yet sacked Geno and forced a fumble:
Decision making like this will never fly in the NFL. Once you understand the three-step play has been busted, Geno either needed to take off or ground it near his hot receiver. The play was ultimately reversed and ruled an incomplete pass, but Geno played it way too close for comfort.
A week later, on Monday Night Football, the Jets were in striking distance to cut an 11-point deficit on the Chicago Bears. Geno pulled this infamous INT:
This is something that doesn’t improve. A QB who has a clear path to run, or a clear lane to throw it to the tight-end (who was open initially), and does this on 2nd down in the NFL, is a QB who displays extremely poor decision making.
Geno gets in his own head. It’s something extremely similar to that of Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez showed Jets fans very powerful clutch abilities his first two seasons (in winning four road playoff games), but when weapons like Santonio Holmes started coming to town and Mike Tannenbaum looked to make the team more QB-centric, he showed his true quarterback worth. Obviously, his worth turned out to be that as a backup.
After winning Week 1 in 2014, the Green Bay loss coupled with the Chicago loss led to six more straight losses (eight straight).
The difference of a Marshall makes a good QB great. He doesn’t take a subpar QB and make him good. And that’s what Geno Smith is: a subpar QB.
While he does have many positive qualities, Marshall’s presence won’t make up for 35 interceptions and 16 fumbles in 29 games started.
Marshall won’t make the whole difference that is Geno’s poor decision making, leadership, and accuracy issues.
We can root for the kid, but he’s not as good as Ryan Fitzpatrick. We saw it with our own eyes in 2015 and the entire Jets organization prefers Fitz. It’s that simple.
If you’re a hardened Fitz basher and Geno supporter, I have just one question for you: What makes you believe Geno Smith will be an improved QB in 2016 after all of the years rooting for the Jets and wishing somebody, anybody would pop up out of nowhere and steal the spotlight?
Steal the spotlight like Ryan Fitzpatrick did a season ago.