New York Jets’ Geno Smith went down with an ACL injury that will not only end his season but more than likely his career with the franchise.
The Geno Smith story is an odd tale that dates back to the 2013 NFL Draft. The New York Jets ended up with two picks in the first round, one of their own and one from a trade in which they shipped Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay.
There were two QB prospects in the draft, EJ Manuel and Geno Smith. There was some debate as to who would go first. It was Manuel when he went 16th to Buffalo. Smith ended up dropping to the second round.
Once Smith fell to the Jets, new GM John Idzik felt pressure to draft a QB after Mark Sanchez finished the 2012 campaign in horrific fashion. He selected Smith and the QB competition was on.
There’s your context.
Mark Sanchez, whether fans wanted to admit it or not, was winning the competition as the rookie was unimpressive through the first few preseason games. That was, until, Rex Ryan inserted Sanchez into the “Snoopy Bowl” in the 4th-quarter with a makeshift offensive line that got him injured.
Sanchez’s season would be over and Smith, by default, was named the starter. It was a rocky year for the rookie signal caller as the Jets finished 8-8.
Smith’s most impressive game was against Atlanta, a game the Jets won 30-28 on Monday Night Football. He threw 3 TDs and had a 147.7 Quarterback Rating. He finished the year with 12 TDs and 21 INTs. He showed signs of potential, but the mental aspect was lacking.
Going into 2014, there was no question that Smith would be the starter. The season got off to a good start against Oakland, but then the wheels fell off. The Jets would go on to lose eight games in a row.
It began to boil over for Smith when he missed a team meeting in San Diego, which was blamed on the time difference. It certainly didn’t help that Smith and the Jets would proceed to go out and get spanked 31-0 against the Chargers that Sunday.
That was strike one for Geno. It didn’t help when just three weeks later when he went 2 of 8 for 5 yards and 3 interceptions in
It didn’t help when just three weeks later when he went 2-of-8 for five yards and three interceptions in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills. By this point, the Jets saw enough and decided to go to the way-past-his-prime Michael Vick.
Although, to be fair, the 2014 season wasn’t all lost when Smith came back for the final game of the season and put up a perfect passer rating and 3 TDs against the Miami Dolphins. Yet again, Geno was leaving the fans with some hope, that just maybe he had figured this thing out.
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After the season the Jets got rid of Idzik and Rex Ryan and brought in Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles. Obviously, with the new regime, things changed. The Jets drafted a QB in the fourth round, Bryce Petty, and brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick as the veteran backup.
That was fine. The Jets would go back to Geno and possess a reliable veteran backup while Petty was developing. It seemed like the Jets had a plan. That was, until, IK Enemkpali threw a right hook to Geno Smith’s jaw because Geno owed him some cash. It was broken, and the keys were handed over to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitz thrived last year. Expectations were low and the Jets ended up winning 10 games while Fitz threw for 31 TDs and nearly 4,000 yards. The only action Smith saw was during a game in Oakland when Fitz had to leave via injury.
After 10 wins and just missing the playoffs the Jets felt like they had to go for it again this year so they brought back Fitzpatrick on the eve of training camp. Did they overpay? Sure, but they felt as if he gave them the best chance to win.
Fitz has not lived up to expectations so far this year, that’s for sure. When the Jets decided to go to Geno in Arizona just two games ago he showed similarities to his past. Strong arm, but poor decision making as he threw an interception and fumbled the ball.
Granted, it was mop up time so it wasn’t really fair to judge Smith based off a small sample size without a full week of practice with the starters. His true test would be against the Ravens in his first start since that great day in Miami 22 months ago.
Once again, Geno showed flashes of good potential. His arm looked strong, which is something that was never in doubt. But ultimately it was the poor decision making that led to his demise.
Smith took a sack when he was well outside the pocket and could have just thrown the ball out of bounds. He would end up tearing his ACL, ending his season, and more than likely ending his time with the Jets as well.
The reason to tell the story this way is to show how Smith’s tenure with the Jets truly was, a roller coaster ride. There were some highs, 2013 in Atlanta and 2014 in Miami, but there were far too many lows.
It’s the clock management, literally and figuratively, on and off the football field. The first strike in San Diego, when he missed a team meeting because he couldn’t figure out the time zone differences. It was the lack of maturity that was shown when his off the field issue with Enemkpali made its way to the locker room.
To finally, this year his same issue, decision making, not throwing the ball away and taking a sack ended his season. It’s ironic that it all goes back to the same thing: decision making.
Geno Smith leaves the Jets with the same feeling fans had in 2013 and 2014. His physical talent made you hold out hope that he would figure things out upstairs between the ears, but he left you desiring more as his full potential was yet to be reached.
He leaves with that burden of never fully reaching potential. Maybe, he gets that shot somewhere else. They will be getting that strong arm, but they are taking a risk when they sign on for his decision making. To whoever it is that signs him next I hope they have a seat belt because it is sure to be a bumpy ride on the roller coaster that is Geno Smith.
His legacy is one that felt unfulfilled. Four years of off the field issues, bad luck, untapped potential and decision making all played a role in the inevitable end of the Geno Smith era.