Playing like a rookie
Florham Park, NJ – The Jets young players have been inconsistent, and the 5-5 record certainly indicates that. Dee Milliner, Stephen Hill, Geno Smith, even Brian Winters have been the focus of fan vitriol. Which brings up a very common saying, “he looked like a rookie.”
Yes, these players have had some poor performances so far this season, but it’s a complete overreaction to want to run these guys out of town. Young players need time to develop. History is littered with players who took their lumps in the NFL. For every Andrew Luck there is an Eli Manning.
Even Aaron Rodgers was a project when he first came to the NFL. His first two years Mike McCarthy and the Packers were lenient with Favre about returning because they weren’t sold on Rodgers as the answer.
Now there is Smith. We don’t even know if he won the job out of camp. No one thought he’d be ready week one, and everyone was fine with letting him develop. But now the Jets are in a playoff race and fans are ready to write him off.
He hasn’t been good the last several weeks. That’s probably an understatement. In the last five games Smith has thrown one touchdown pass and 8 interceptions while only completing over 55% of his passes twice (both in losses), and only surpassing 200 yards passing twice.
Fans are calling for Matt Simms to start, and pining for the days that Mark Sanchez was under center. Let’s slow down. It’s been a while so I understand it’s easy to forget about how bad Sanchez was, but let’s look at the numbers.
Mark’s rookie season: 53.8% completion percentage/2,444 yards (6.71 YPA)/12 TD/3 rushing TD/20 INT/8 fum/15 games.
Projected 16 game season for Smith: 56.3% completion percentage/3,360 yards (7.12 YPA)/13 TD/5 rush TD/25 INT/6 fum.
I’m sorry, but those numbers clearly favor Smith. And that is all while being asked to throw the ball downfield more, and with a worse supporting cast.
Not a fan of comparing rookie seasons? Ok, let’s look at Sanchez’s numbers last year: 54.3% completion percentage/2,883 yards (6.36 YPA)/13 TD/18 INT/9 fum/15 games. Still giving the edge to Smith
Even take Mark’s best season: 56.7% completion percentage/3,474 yards (6.4 YPA)/26 TD/6 rushing TD/18 INT/4 fum/16 games. Ok, now I might give a slight edge to Sanchez.
Mark got 4 years with those numbers; Smith hasn’t even gotten a season. He’s had games where his top targets were David Nelson, Greg Salas, and Zach Sudfeld.
And Smith isn’t the only one struggling. Winters had one of his worst games last week. Hill has failed to become the reliable receiver the Jets need, and Milliner and the pass defense have allowed way too many big plays.
After four years, being better than Mark Sanchez doesn’t seem like a lot. The point is he’s had a worst supporting cast and has so far performed better in his rookie season than the Sanchize did in his. He’s not the first rookie to struggle and he won’t be the last. He’s not even the only rookie currently struggling on the team. Basically, show some patience and give these players time to develop.