Jets' Smith Has Another Bump On The Road
By Neil Cohen
Last week it was “Bad Geno’s” turn to play quarterback. He’s been around a lot recently.
The results were so awful that the Jets remained consistent in their inconsistency. The pattern of a loss following a win for the first 10 games of the season with a 37-14 defeat in Buffalo.
A quick glance at the statistics would show that the numbers rookie quarterback Geno Smith put up against the Bills (8 of 23 passing for 103 yards) were not much different than those before the bye in the 26-20 win against New Orleans (8 of 19 for 115).
But Smith didn’t make any turnovers against the Saints, while against Buffalo he tossed three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and lost a fumble. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, based on passer rating, Smith's performance (10.1) was the worst by a Jets starter in four years. He is 1-4 on the road.
All of the turnovers came in his own territory. His fumble gave Buffalo a short field at the Jets 4, which became a touchdown. The first pick put the ball at the Jets 26 and resulted in a field goal. No damage came on the second interception, but the final one was returned 32 yards for a touchdown. Smith was also sacked four times.
“With our protection you could’ve had Joe Namath back there and it wouldn’t have mattered,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
After badly missing on a pass to Stephen Hill, Smith was benched for the second time in three games.
As good as Smith had looked in a 27-20 win on Sept. 22 against Buffalo, going 16 of 29 It’s not the direction you want a rookie quarterback to go to determine whether he can be the starter going forward. E.J. Manuel, Buffalo’s first-year starter, was the opposite, completing 20 of 28 passes for 245 yards and two scores. More importantly, after getting sacked eight times in September, the Jets got him just once this time.
“I know that this isn’t who I am or who I want to be,” Smith said after the game. “I couldn’t hit anything today.”
The Jets’ rushing stats against the Bills looked fine, 134 yards on 23 attempts, but 69 of those yards came on one run by Chris Ivory. The ground game wasn’t able to pick up the slack. The defense was put in bad positions all day. Former Jet defensive co-ordinator Mike Pettine used all kinds of blitzes to keep the rookie on the run.
Since his big victory in Atlanta, Smith hasn’t been productive, with three touchdown passes and eight interceptions, half of which have been returned for touchdowns. According to AP, he has completed 36 of 72 passes for 377 yards, no touchdowns and five picks in his last three outings. Two of those games were 40- and 23-point losses.
In the ESPN Jets blog, it was noted that Smith has 16 interceptions through his first 10 starts, equal to what Mark Sanchez had in his rookie season.
Another similarity with Sanchez is that the Jets have no veteran backup on the roster. Ryan said Monday that Smith will remain the starter, but left open the door that fellow rookie Matt Simms could see some first-team reps in practice.
But a quarterback change is unlikely to happen. Next year’s draft is deep at the position, so the Jets will want to see what Smith is capable of. They’ll want to know whether they have to start over again.
Smith needs to be smarter with the ball and learn how to play on the road. Hill has to became a part of the offense again and Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow Jr. have to use their veteran wiles to help Smith develop.
As a rookie, Smith was expected to have growing pains. But it’s starting to look painful for everyone else.