Some personal insight on Geno Smith
Hello Jet Fans,
If you are wondering why you should read this post, I'd first like to say that I have probably seen Geno Smith play more than anyone else on this board. Not that it makes me some professional scout, but I think I can provide a little bit of insight into your new QB.
*Warning, this will probably be a long post, but I hope to make it well worth your time.*
As a senior at WVU, I have followed Geno Smith's career from start to finish. I remember his first appearance in a game at Auburn, after our starting QB went down, to his last game in Yankee stadium. I have seen 99.99 percent of every snap he has taken (most of them in person).
Before I get directly into Geno Smith, I grew up in the Boston area (not a Patriots' fan if that matters to you guys) a big Boston College fan. I watched Matt Ryan's career closely from beginning to end, and knew he would one day make an NFL franchise very happy.
After the Atlanta Falcons drafted Ryan, with many of them being upset for passing on Glenn Dorsey, I did the same thing I'm doing here with you guys. I followed one of their message boards for a few days, and finally decided it was time to post. I told them everything I knew about Ryan from my time watching them, and assured them they had a franchise QB.
Take that for what it's worth, like I said before, I'm no professional scout or QB aficionado. Maybe I just got lucky on the Matt Ryan assessment.
But back to Geno.
I'll start off the field. I know there has been a lot said about Geno off the field lately, firing his agent, reportedly choosing not to return to Day 2 of the draft (but then returning).
I don't believe you guys need to worry about Geno off the field. Not once have I ever seen him out on the campus late at night. Now that doesn't mean he didn't party or anything, but I have also never heard anything credible about him doing something stupid in terms of off the field. The summer before his freshman year he reportedly injured his foot by riding an ATV, but besides that, no red flags off the field as far as my knowledge. And I'm someone who follows the WVU team very closely.
I don't think Geno ever got caught up in the whole big man on campus idea, or being the star football player. I truly believe Geno's biggest concern in life is being the best Quarterback he can be. This is a guy who after throwing 8 touchdown passes against Baylor, saw his mother, then spent that Saturday night with a pizza, watching film on next week's opponent, Texas.
I'm not sure many college athletes have that type of mental makeup. Now do I think Geno has some maturing left to do in life, absolutely. But, I wouldn't worry about this guy being in the bright lights of New York. I think the additional spotlight is something that will only fuel Geno.
Now in terms of his actual game play. Geno can make nearly every throw, and make it well. Is he always consistent with those throws? No he misses some, but I believe it can be improved with continued coaching. Geno makes some throws that absolutely boggle my mind in a good way though.
For example. Check out that throw down the right sideline to Tavon in the Oklahoma game this past year, or that throw against LSU to Tavon right down the field. Keep in mind, Oklahoma had the 8th ranked passing defense this past year, and you guys all know how good LSU's defense is.
Those are just some of the throws that speak to Geno's "arm talent." Making the throws won't be the problem. In my personal opinion, Geno is extremely accurate. You can argue that he just throws dink and dunk passes, but he threads a lot of difficult throws. Particularly, I think he does a great job of throwing a receiver away from a defender. He'll throw the ball low if he has to protect his receiver from being hit high, or lead his receiver to a spot where he can catch and run.
Now some may also argue that he was throwing to two great receivers, and while I absolutely agree with that assessment, make sure to look at what else he had around him. Did you notice any other offensive players drafted by WVU this year, or even the past year?
No. WVU had a very talented trio, but after that, it was mediocre at best. The offensive line was below average. Hell, at one point this year in the Texas Tech game (what started our collapse) the play-by-play announcer was calling out on live TV whether WVU was passing or running based on our left tackle's stance. We had an average running game that was very inconsistent, never giving Geno a dependable outlet.
Now one of the most important factors to a quarterback in my opinion is, can the QB come up in the clutch? I want a guy who with 2 minutes left in a game and down 4, leads a team on a game winning drive.
Geno displayed this quality from a very early age in his career. In just his 2nd career start, down 15, Geno led two back-to-back 90 plus yard drives late in the 4th quarter at Marshall, and eventually won the game in overtime. That included a 2-point conversion with just seconds left in the game to send it to overtime. Keep in mind WVU has never lost to Marshall, their fans treat it as a Superbowl when they play us, and Geno snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, leaving them stunned. How many guys in their 2nd career start could manage that?
Geno has shown the capability to come up big throughout his career. This past year he led a late drive against Oklahoma to put WVU up. But as WVU's defense did all year, they let Oklahoma score in the final seconds on a 4th and goal. He was 2-0 against WVU's rival Pitt, including defeating them at Pitt as a true sophomore in VERY windy conditions (I know that's been a concern).
His junior year with a BCS bowl birth on the line, Geno led yet another game winning drive at South Florida, that set up a game-winning field goal to beat the buzzer. Against TCU this past year, he threw a TD on the first play of double-overtime, but yet again, WVU's defense allowed TCU to score, and then convert a 2-point conversion that won them the game.
He was the Orange Bowl MVP his junior year in one of the biggest games of his career. Yes he got some touchdowns from that tip pass to Tavon, but if you watch that game, Geno made a lot of plays in the game, both with his arm and legs.
I could list other instances of him displaying the "clutch gene" as Skip Bayless would call it, but I think I've made the point. With the game on the line, Geno has shown he can get it done.
Now another thing I want to touch on is WVU's meteoric rise then fall this year, and how it affected Geno's stock.
Everyone knows how the season started for Geno and how it finished. I believe a lot of his "stock falling" had to do with the team itself. The Texas Tech game began the slide, and after losing that game, I believe the team was shell-shocked. After going down to Texas and getting a tough victory, I think they truly developed National Title aspirations. The Texas Tech game hit them hard, and they weren't emotionally ready for Kansas State the next week. After losing that they hit a pivotal point in their season with TCU.
They lost a very close TCU game in double overtime, and then lost in the last seconds of Oklahoma two weeks later. I know it is a lot of "what ifs" but had those two game just went slightly different, WVU is sitting with at least 9 wins, and probably doesn't continue their prolonged slide, and gets maybe 10 wins. The National Media would then be looking at Geno's great statistics in a much better fashion. Does he deserve some fault for the losses? Yes. But all I'm trying to say is there's a fine line between winning and losing, and how it is portrayed.
Maybe this isn't relevant at all but I know there is a lot of talk surrounding Teddy Bridgewater and Tajh Boyd for next year. Well just keep in mind that in WVU's last season in the Big East, they won the conference over Bridgewater's Louisville squad. WVU also defeated Boyd's Clemson squad in the Orange Bowl.
Obviously that speaks more toward the team than individuals, but just food for thought.
Of course a lot of "bad tape" has been shown on him lately. Especially by national media outlets, wishing to show his deficiencies. There is bad tape on anyone though. Even Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, some of which this Jets defense has been responsible for. You can take any player and make him look poor from a collection of several highlights. But if you look at the totality of his play you'll find a lot more "good tape" than "bad."
Also I think you have to love the amount of football Geno Smith has played. He's started the past 3 seasons at WVU, and even saw some time freshman year in a reserve role and coming in for injury. This is a guy who has seen a lot of defenses over his career. He understands preparation. He understands what is expected of him as a QB. He also started a ton of games in high-school. He has a lot of football experience, and has proven successful, unlike some who just show flashes. This is a guy who has been consistent for years.
He's also played in plenty of less than stellar weather conditions. I can surely attest to you that Morgantown is no tropical paradise. He's played in snow, pouring rain, freezing temperatures, beautiful sunny days, windy conditions, domes. You name it, and he has probably played in it. So I don't think adjusting to New York's weather game conditions is too much of a concern.
Back to this season. WVU's pass defense was one of the worst in football. I'm not exaggerating either, as the numbers will show you. We had a former Harvard Law student, with hardly any coaching experience as our defensive backs coach, and it showed. Hence why he was abruptly fired this offseason.
They couldn't cover anyone. Geno put the team in position to win that TCU and Oklahoma game, and the defense couldn't close it out. Hell the defense allowed a 96 yard touchdown pass in the TCU game with a minute and a half left, which tied the game.
Geno had a lot of pressure on him to continuously carry the load. That Baylor game for example speaks volumes. He didn't just throw 8 touchdowns in a meaningless beat down. He had to throw those 8 td's, and score on nearly every possession because Baylor scored 63 points. Geno just kept coming out on every drive and delivering though.
Eventually having that poor of a defense will catch up to you though. How mentally trying must that be knowing you have to be nearly perfect game in and out just to keep your team in the game? Also take into account that his favorite target, Stedman Bailey, injured himself in the Texas Tech game, and wasn't right for a few weeks. That really hurt Geno, as Bailey has been his security blanket since high school. Just as a side note, I know you guys got a good player in Winters with your 3rd round selection, but I would have loved to have seen the Jets draft Bailey with that pick and keep those two together.
One negative that I believe Geno can improve on his how long he holds the ball. With his athletic ability, which he rarely showed in terms of running the ball, I'd like to see him tuck it away and pick up 5 or 6 yards easy yards and slide, rather than holding onto the ball waiting for the open receiver. I think you'll see a lot of Geno trying to escape and keep the play alive down field, rather than take off running for yards. I think sometimes it's just best to take the easy yards than trying to hit the home run.
Also I'd like to address the talk of him being a "system QB." I understand why people talk about it, but for those that don't know, he began his career in a pro-style offense and under center. So he's not completely unfamiliar that. I don't believe the system is what made Geno, but the system allowed Geno to highlight his talents. With the way the NFL is headed right now anyways, you could argue that if your not a spread quarterback, then you're probably a little behind the pro game. I mean do people say Tom Brady is any less of a quarterback because he makes a 7 yard pass to Wes Welker, and Welker picks up 20 after the catch, similar to what Geno did with Tavon at times. If anything it shows Geno is capable of making those quick decisions in a short amount of time and space (which fits well with your OC's West Coast system). Just my opinion though.
Ultimately Geno left WVU a better place than he found it. He was a heralded recruit out of Miramar Florida, who had offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Oregon, LSU. But he chose to come to WVU and create his own legacy. He's been a great player at every stage of football thus far, and I truly believe that will continue into the NFL.
Yes he needs the proper coaching, and talent around him, but who doesn't? From an outside observer, I really like the direction the Jets appear headed in.
You guys have a great competitor with your new QB. Can he be overly emotional? Yes, but he just wants to win. As a Celtics' fan (yes the Knicks are kicking our ass) his attitude reminds me a lot of Rajon Rondo. Geno's a smart kid, English major, was a talented art student at a young age, and he's the ultimate competitor. Sometimes that rubs people the wrong way.
But I think teammates will respect him. He was notorious for getting into trash talking battles before the game with opposing teams and both teams would typically get into a little pushing a shoving match at half field. I don't think it was anything malicious, but just that fire of competition and Geno trying to get his teammates ready for battle (for lack of a better term).
He's got a great swagger about him at times. He got into a trash talking duel at Texas this past year with some of their recruits behind the bench and taunted them with a Horns down symbol. Is that what you want from your starting QB. I don't know, you could argue both sides of it. But he's a confident kid, who I do believe needs to manage the lows a little better, but I think he can. When Geno is on though, boy he is on and he'll just carve up a defense like a surgeon. I think has he continues as a pro, he'll learn how to control his emotions and use them at the appropriate time.
Maybe I'm wrong, and this will all look dumb in 3 years, but if the Jets continue to acquire some offensive talent, and give Geno the support and time to develop (I personally think he could start this year and handle it well), you guys have your franchise quarterback.
For those that took the time to read this, I appreciate it, and wish you guys the best of luck this season. I know I'll be rooting for you guys.
Also forgot to mention this in my original post. But Andrew Luck's father, Oliver Luck is the AD at WVU. When he hired Dana Holgorsen as Head Coach, he told him that Geno was special and would be a pro. Former Colts GM, Bill Polian has also been on record as saying that Oliver Luck told him there are no character concerns with Geno whats so ever. Oliver knows a thing or two about quarterbacking, with his son, and also being a former NFL QB, so I'd take his word in pretty high regard.