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Don't Give Up On Geno Smith Yet

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Geno Smith of the New York Jets is sacked during NFL game action by Jairus Byrd of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Nov. 17, 2013 in Orchard Park, N.Y. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images.
Geno Smith of the New York Jets is sacked during NFL game action by Jairus Byrd of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Nov. 17, 2013 in Orchard Park, N.Y. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images.

Following arguably his worst performance of the season, Geno Smith has kept his job as the starting quarterback for the New York Jets for at least another week.

Smith was benched in the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.  Backup quarterback Matt Simms took the reins and did not look bad. The game has led to Jets fans calling for Simms to take over the starting position. That said, it is not time to give up on Smith quite yet.

The rookie quarterback has experienced growing pains as expected. He has looked downright terrible in New York’s five losses. He has been prone to turning the ball over, throwing 16 interceptions and losing four fumbles.  His QB rating is 32 of 33 eligible quarterbacks.

Despite these struggles, Smith and the Jets are sitting at 5-5. If the season were to end today, New York would be the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs. The team has wildly exceeded expectations to this point. How do you bench the guy who has put the team in a spot few thought it could reach?

Smith has been a different quarterback in the games the Jets have won and lost. He has shown flashes of being franchise quarterback material.  He has led comeback wins against Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Smith has also led to the team victories against New Orleans and New England, two of the best teams in the NFL. Not many quarterbacks beat Tom Brady and Drew Brees in their rookie season.

Smith has been winning games without quality wide receivers as well. Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, probably the team’s two best receivers, have both missed time with injuries. Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Second-year receiver Stephen Hill has been virtually absent, and has not caught a pass the last two games.

Criticism of Smith has been deserved at times. Too often, however, fans and the media are awfully quick to point a finger solely at the quarterback. Sunday’s devastating loss at Buffalo showed that team’s problems are deeper than Smith. He was sacked four times and hit many more. A rookie quarterback needs more help from his offensive line than that.

Smith’s play has certainly not warranted him to be considered the Jets quarterback of the future. Had Mark Sanchez not injured his shoulder in the preseason, who knows who would be starting under center right now. That said, Smith has gained valuable experience. He is still developing and fans should be patient. 

Smith has showed maturity during his struggles. He accepted responsibility for the loss to the Bills, unlike Robert Griffin III placing blame on the coaching staff. Smith has also shown resilience, following every loss with a victory the next week. The Jets have alternated wins and losses all 10 weeks, the longest streak of its kind to start a season in NFL history. Following that pattern, fans should expect New York to win in Baltimore and keep a hold on that final playoff spot.