BGA: Quarterbacks – A step in the right direction

It may have just seemed like an insignificant nine-yard completion on second and long, but there was an identifiable “Eureka” moment for Geno Smith in the second quarter.

After a shaky start, Smith had been more lucky than good in helping the Jets to build a 10-3 lead. His touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley was lofted up for grabs with three defenders at the back of the end zone and he’d already been intercepted once (almost twice) and misfired on another potential touchdown pass with the receiver open. However, he took a three drop and threw a completion to David Nelson coming back to the ball.

The key here was that Nelson broke back for the ball and it was already on its way to him, as it has to be if you want to complete that throw in the NFL. Smith got his feet set, stepped into the throw and made it accurate but, more importantly, on time. We’ve all been waiting for that pass…not least the receivers.

By George, I think he’s got it.

Whether or not that ultimately proves to be the moment where the lightbulb went on for Smith, he was much more confident and decisive from that point on. In fact, on the very next play, he sat confidently in the pocket (something else we haven’t seen in recent games) and threw on time to Kerley to keep the chains moving. Earlier in the game, he had hit Santonio Holmes for a 32-yard catch-and-run where Holmes stopped his route and had time to hop up and down on the spot four times before the ball arrived, so the difference was striking. Maybe that long-overdue touchdown pass, fortunate though it was, snapped him out of his funk and he can progress over the remainder of the season. It will be interesting to see if he can follow this up against a top defense. Remember, he still hasn’t had two decent games in a row yet this year.

For the rest of the game, he was doing a much better job of getting the ball out on time, although to be hyper-critical the ball could still have been out a beat earlier on some of his throws and he did almost throw a redzone pick. Trusting your receivers to make the break as you’re already releasing the throw is a big hump to get over and it’s no coincidence that this would happen when he had most of the receivers he trusts back in the lineup. Kerley, Holmes and Kellen Winslow were out there for a combined 90 snaps whereas it was less than 20 last week. I just don’t think he trusts the likes of Stephen Hill (inactive due to a knee injury) and Jeff Cumberland (out there for 47 snaps, but not targeted) enough to throw it until he sees they’re open, which is invariably too late.

Geno SmithI’m sure the timing of his throws has been a point of emphasis and credit goes both to the player and the coaches for manufacturing some improvements there. On one play, he bobbled the snap, but still made an effort to get the ball out on time, although it was off-line. In previous games, that has happened and the throw has been delayed, allowing the cornerback to jump the route.

Those early struggles for Smith were all too familiar although pass protection was a factor. The offensive line did a great job of keeping Smith clean all day, but on a couple of the early throws he missed he was hit as he released the ball. One saw him miss Kellen Winslow open on a third down route to the pylon and another saw him overthrow the receiver and almost get picked off. He then was picked off on the very next play, but that was more of a bad read, as he stared down Kerley and Kevin Burnett made an athletic diving play.

Statistically, this was an enormous improvement on the last few weeks, as he completed 64% of his passes and averaged 8.8 yard per attempt. 42% and 6.1 has been his “best” performances over the previous four games and that’s the best yards per attempt average he’s had since the Falcons game in week five. Also, crucially, he contributed with his legs, picking up 50 yards and touchdown on five carries with some decisive running. His numbers could have been even better, but he didn’t attempt a pass or run in the last 10 minutes.

It’s baby steps for Smith at the moment, because many of these things I’m excited to see and praising him for are pretty routine and a notch below being able to read and pick apart an opposing defense which would be the ultimate goal for him. However, with the regression we’ve seen from him over the last month, it’s a big deal even for him just to stop the bleeding.


Next up…a change in approach on the offensive line – but did it work? Sort of…

45 comments
jaygo
jaygo

Traffic here on the blog way down.  Anybody here liking other spots to Jet chat?

a57se
a57se

 By George, I think he’s got it.

REALLY?

Joan Israel
Joan Israel

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Jets were playing the Raiders, remember, and Oakland looked horrible, except for the QB, the running back, and the receiver, Streater.

Wouldn't you trade right now Geno for McGoin straight up? I was really impressed with the Raider QB's play.

I'm not particularly hopeful about this upcoming week against Carolina, but if Geno Smith plays well, even if the Jets lose, maybe the Jets have someone to build a team around. But, I'm wary.

Jim Israel

pisano
pisano

A win is a win, but next week we don't know what Geno will show. If the Jets can run the ball consistently, that will take the pressure off Geno and he shouldn't get into too much trouble. I'll say one thing Ivory, and Powell are two good RB's, both are a big improvement over Shonn Greene.

harvlis
harvlis

The Raiders were a bad team, playing away from home.  If the Jets were playing a good team, Smith's early play would have had us losing by two or three scores.  Fortunately, the Raiders were not able to take advantage.  Many fans see a win and think that Geno must have played well.  Geno is not the answer.  We need to find a real QB, in the off-season.  Geno will be totally exposed, next weekend.   

Bytor
Bytor

Testing the sny login. Glad to see us back on the horse!

ww85
ww85

One throw means the lights went on?  He's had other nice throws this year. One question: He ran a spread offense in college. I thought spread QBs are good at getting the ball out quickly. Is it just bc he doesnt trust this group of receivers that he is so slow?

jaygo
jaygo

This isn't so complicated.  The blocking was MUCH better yesterday and the WRs were legit NFL wide receivers and not practice squad type guys.  Geno had a split second more to think and his receivers were open a split second sooner.  Kearly and Winslow made plays no receiver has made in weeks.  Even the running game was working.  Geno showed poise we haven't seen in weeks.  Threw a couple passes away, threw a beautiful screen, ran the read option well and made all the plays he was supposed to make.  The INT was bad but only threw one and, truth be told, defensive backs everywhere are (correctly) looking for and going for picks on plays they might otherwise not.  Games like yesterday will change that.   All in all, he played very well when given a chance. Despite the 3 bad losses, I am good going into next season with him at QB with a bunch of new weapons.  


DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

I agree that the trust in his receivers was more evident yesterday, and the Nelson pass was one of many where he said: I'm throwing it where you should go, get it. The wobbly Kerley pass that seemed off target wide was another where he knew Jeremy would adjust to turn outside, which he did.


On the note of trusting his receivers to go where they should, was Geno doing just that on the play where Winslow held up and didn't finish his route, and Geno's pass appeared to thrown to nobody (and almost picked off)? Not sure if you can tell from coaches film. If Winslow was supposed to complete his route, I have no problem with that pass, as you noted -- we want Geno trusting his guys and throwing without hesitation that they may screw up. INTs that are the receivers fault are obviously more acceptable in his growth.

juunit
juunit

He at least managed to get over whatever mental block had been bugging him for the past seven or so weeks. For those weeks, he looked like a complete and total failure. Yesterday he looked more like the guy who started the season and showed some mild competence and potential. Of course, ending the season exactly where he started would be disappointing, and with both the Panthers and Browns defenses still to come, it seems likely he's going to play poorly in at least two of the three remaining games. 


What were people's thoughts about his celebrations after the TDs? I'm sure some people will see it as he's finally got that weight off his shoulders. But I thought he overdid it, considering how bad he's been, I don't think he has the right to celebrate much. It actually looked like he was about to pull the Superman/Cam Newton after I think it was the first TD.

1969JAN12th
1969JAN12th

Can anybody figure out on Kerley's TD.... how Kerley & Holmes ended up in the same place with three defenders ?

Ceifus Hornswoggle
Ceifus Hornswoggle

Geno looked great on the first series, which was scripted and rehearsed.  When the script ran out, leaving him to his own devices, he returned to his usual turnover-prone self.  Thank god the running game was working.


I wonder why the Raiders took Pryor out.  He looked like he was giving the Jets defense problems.  They weren't ready for him and it showed.  If I was the Raiders, I would've played him the rest of the game.

r_in_ct
r_in_ct

I'm curious if Geno's performance was based on him stepping up or the Raiders falling down ... or a combination of both. 


I want to believe he's improving, and I agree it looked that after a shaky start he seemed to gain some confidence and looked more decisive.


One thing that sort of struck me -- watching a true NFL tight end catch a pass. Winslow is so smooth on his catches (unlike Cumby who seems to bobble everything a bit). It's got to be helpful for Geno to know that he can throw it in there and the target will actually catch it.

BDarc23
BDarc23

I'm glad he did better but the intereception was so bad that it is still very difficult to be optimistic on Geno's future.

Brendan
Brendan

@jaygo This happened with Disqus. People are butthurt and will pretend they aren't coming back, once the SNY bugs are worked out people will return, same as Disqus. 

juunit
juunit

IMO it's partly bad timing. The season essentially ended last week so people are nursing their wounds. But the new commenting does suck. The one good thing about Disqus was it told us when someone replied to our comments. Now we're back to the old school having to read all the comments over and over to have a back and forth.

Bent
Bent

@a57se Why not?  That's a literary device used to signify someone finally mastering something straightforward that anyone else would probably consider to be routine.


I'm not saying he's Johnny Unitas now, just that he's mastered this one simple step that could make a difference.


Next step is learning to read the field, go through progressions, look off safeties, etc.

LIJetsFan
LIJetsFan

@pisano When it comes to OL and QB prep, the Jets are much like the United States foreign policy.  "You can always counts on the United States to do the right thing, once they have exhausted all of the other possibilities"

jaygo
jaygo

I don't get this comment.  If you don't give him credit for playing well against an inferior team, how do you criticize him for playing bad against better teams?  Head I win, tails you lose.

Jeff E. Guy
Jeff E. Guy

@harvlis I'm not sure where I stand on Smith. He's flashed both good and bad. He does play better when his primary receivers aren't named Salas and Nelson. Given a choice between drafting another QB or a WR, I'll take the latter at this point. In fact, I'd be happy with WRs in the first two rounds and a couple more in free agency. 

Joe De Sr.
Joe De Sr.

Oakland has the worse pass defense in all of football. People,please enjoy the win, but don't expect too much more!

juunit
juunit

NFL defenses are more complicated to read. Especially when in college he was often throwing the ball behind or within a few yards of the line of scrimmage.

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

@DarrolRayFanClub

You must be kidding. Geno played better be happy with that but yesterday the receivers bailed him out all day. Winslow went up on a ladder and the throw was behind him on his acrobat catch. The first down pass where Holmes didn't have a defender within ten yards of him and Geno throws the ball four feet above his head and Holmes goes up and gets it. The T.D.pass was a jump ball that looked like it was an under throw to Holmes and Kerley recognized it and changed his route and went up to get it. Geno also tried to give Reeds pick away by throwing it right in the LB's hands that he dropped. So no he wasn't throwing to spots they were bad throws. Geno made a few throws on time that he should have and he made better decisions to pull the ball down and run. That's all we need from him to win. But remember who we played.

So let Geno play like  that which was an avg. performance against Carolina which has a real Defense before getting impressed with improvement.

Bent
Bent

@DarrolRayFanClub While the announcer said Winslow stopped his route, what actually happened on that play was that the cornerback jumped in front and cut him off.  At the same time, Geno was getting nailed, so he just fired it out without seeing that Winslow wouldn't be able to get to the ball.

jaygo
jaygo

I don't get this comment.  If you don't give him credit for playing well against an inferior team, how do you criticize him for playing bad against better teams?  Head I win, tails you lose.

DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

@BDarc23 Looked like a rookie mistake to me -- staring down his WR and the CB jumped the route. Once he adjusts, the CBs wont even jump the route anymore.

djf1
djf1

changing during offseason would've made more sense.  after football before baseball.

Brendan
Brendan

@juunit Yeah, that's the one thing I don't like: lack of notifications. 

Bent
Bent

@jetfuel Our traffic isn't actually down.  Fewer people are commenting, but I think that's because Joeyboy/Stiffsticker have turned a few people off with their repetitive blather rather than the site changes.

a57se
a57se

Some folks just don't like change all the time.......

a57se
a57se

- Geno Smith had an average time to throw of just 2.67 seconds, .39 seconds lower than his season average.

This is from PFF which for Geno, is a record this season. To continue a theme I started a couple weeks ago, i think Marty has done a good job of creating plays tailored to Geno's eye. Almost all of his completions were to receivers that he had clear sightlines for.

The ones where it wasn't so clear were sketchy at best. The heave that Kerley brought in was a poor throw that turned out OK for a change. I still don't think he is seeing the field real well as the INT should NOT have been thrown.

a57se
a57se

I think the biggest difference in this game was the Jets weren't trailing........

juunit
juunit

We just always seem to go 1-1 with the Dolphins every year, so I'm assuming this year will be no different.

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@Bent @djf1 This is no where near as bad as what happened on the Jets own site where Randy Lange had his blog "Randy's Radar"! The change was so drastic 90% of the regulars left and now its filled with a bunch of knuckleheads who know as much about the Jets or football in general as I know about nuclear fission.

Bent
Bent

I'm not sure how it all played out to be honest, but we didn't know it was coming until it had already happened.

djf1
djf1

Oh, this was a WP mandate?   You guys should've mentioned it, I think people wouldnhave understood it better.

Bent
Bent

@djf1 In SNY's defense, they had no clue this was happening when it did.  Wordpress just sprung it on them out of the blue.  No way they'd have scheduled it during the hot stove if they had the choice.

SackDance99
SackDance99

I think your critique here is odd.  All QBs have OCs that try to make sure that they have good sightlines.  When the rush obscures vision, then the QB has to move in the pocket to create the proper sightlines and, IMO, that's one of those skills that takes time and experience.  Last night, Cam Newton did a terrible job of creating sightlines.  Not surprising, he's been the tallest and fastest guy out there for so long that he doesn't yet get that in the NFL he's better off stepping up than moving laterally.  Sanchez was just awful at creating sightlines.  Brees, with his lack of size, is just a magician at creating sightlines.  So, all I'm saying is that even a blue-chip, budding star, like Cam Newton, struggles mightily when his sightlines are obscured.  It's not just Geno.

a57se
a57se

I am glad we won! 

We were joking at the Sports Bar how Jets fans would be going bonkers over how good Geno was yesterday!

Glad to see folks here are much more cautious.

Hanknaples
Hanknaples

WOW 57 You are EXTRA mean today.....you s/b in good spirits after a BADLY needed win. LOL !!!

a57se
a57se

Yes but they were the best 7 yards I've ever seen from a rookie!

juunit
juunit

Didn't he throw the ball a grand total of 7 yards past the LOS against the Saints the entire game or something ridiculous like that?

jaygo
jaygo

He was the QB who beat New England and New Orleans.  Seems to me when he gets anything from the OL and the WRs, he's OK.