BGA: Quarterbacks – Jingle bells, jingle bells, Geno all the way

Geno Smith turned in another solid performance yesterday, accounting for 262 yards and three touchdowns through the air and on the ground. The biggest difference, something which I pointed out following the Oakland game where his fortunes started to change, is that he’s getting the ball out on time. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this three game run and his willingness to trust his receivers to make their break as the ball is in the air has corresponded with the return of his top three targets.

It looks like Smith will make it to 16 starts, making him the first quarterback in Jets history to start every game in his rookie season. That’s an impressive achievement, even though there were people calling for him to be replaced at one stage. He’s done well to push through since then.

Smith still had some inaccurate throws and questionable decisions, but the Jets converted 12-of-18 third downs and he strung together three touchdown drives, finishing each of them off himself, with two touchdown passes to David Nelson and the game-clinching 17-yard run with just over three minutes remaining.

While two of the three games were against poor teams at home, I’d still suggest that this is the best three-game stretch of his rookie season. Statistically, the Bills/Titans/Falcons stretch earlier in the year was better, but the Titans performance was misleading because he padded his stats late in the game and did lose a fumble for a touchdown.

Smith’s ball protection has been one area where he has unquestionably improved. He’s lost just one fumble since that Titans game in week four. Aside from the getting the ball out on time which I mentioned, I’ve also been increasingly impressed by his willingness to trust his protection and sit in the pocket, giving routes sufficient time to develop.

Smith did make some good downfield reads (and throws) yesterday and did a good job of smartly throwing the ball away when nothing was on, instead of trying to force it. However, there was one play where he may have missed an opportunity. Yet again, this came on a play where Rich Gannon told the viewing audience that nobody was open and actually criticized the Jets’ skill position players for their inability to win one-on-one matchups. And, yet, here’s the image he was basing that on:

open

At the top of the screen, Santonio Holmes blew by Joe Haden with an inside release and the Jets drew the deep safety far enough out of the middle of the field that Holmes was wide open. As you can see, he has a step on Haden and an accurate throw over the top would have been a touchdown. Maybe Smith was reluctant to test Haden – one of the league’s better quarterbacks – or lacked confidence in himself to make that deep throw. Maybe he just saw it too late and knew he didn’t have time to plant and get enough on the throw. (As you can see, he seems to be staring down his targets to the left). As for other options, the underneath checkdown was smartly doubled by the Browns, illustrating the kind of thing teams have been doing to try and force Smith to take risks. However, towards the bottom of the screen, Jeff Cumberland would get enough separation from TJ Ward that he could have been a potential target too.

I’m criticizing Gannon here more than Smith though. There weren’t many other opportunities I saw that Smith missed and it’s yet another example of someone in the media saying something (eg Dierdorf’s “Look at Ed Reed taking a bad angle”) and everyone else taking it at face value. Gannon is just wrong here – and he’s done this several times over the past two seasons in an effort to confirm some preconceived notion which obviously isn’t as clear-cut as everyone thinks.

I know it’s sacrilege to compare Smith to Mark Sanchez, but I’m going to anyway because their rookie season numbers make for a pretty interesting comparison. They’re two different players, whose careers might go in different directions, but this is still informative in terms of putting into context how well Smith has performed as a rookie.

Obviously Smith has one game to go, but Sanchez did miss a game (and half of another game) through injury. Of course, Smith was benched a couple of times too. Ultimately, Geno has played 935 snaps and Sanchez played 960 (in the regular season), so it more or less washes out.

So, let’s compare:

Completion percentage – Smith 55%, Sanchez 54%
Yardage – Smith 2856, Sanchez 2444
TD/INT – Smith 12/21, Sanchez 12/20
Yards per attempt – Smith 6.9, Sanchez 6.7
Sacked – Smith 43 times, Sanchez 26 times
Fumbles – Smith 8 (lost 4), Sanchez 10 (lost 3)
Rushing – Smith 62-322-5TD, Sanchez 36-106-3TD

The passing numbers are more or less the same and each of them had a strong start, an extended midseason slump and then an end of season resurgence. One difference is that Smith was sacked a lot more often. Another difference is that Smith was more productive as a runner (which we said he would be all year, although many people are still operating on the “not a running QB because of his college stats” fallacy, which fails to take into account that college rushing stats deduct negative yardage from sacks). This was true again yesterday, with Smith smartly making some key first downs and the clinching touchdown with his legs.

When Smith rushes for over 20 yards, the Jets are 5-1 and it’s no coincidence that Smith’s QB rating in those six games is much higher (89.3) because when he runs, he isn’t forcing throws and making mistakes. He’s done that three games in a row now and has just two interceptions in that three game stretch, the first time he’s managed that all season. Smith averages 33 rushing yards when the Jets win and 11 when they lose. I’m not saying they should introduce more designed runs for him – this has more to do with him taking what the defense gives him instead of taking undue chances. The fact he’s started to do that remains encouraging, because it’s integral to his potential effectiveness and continuing development.


Next up…the running backs run angry.

132 comments
chrisr
chrisr

How has geno qb numbers compared to great qb rookie numbers? Are there any particular stat that you weigh more then other when evaluating young qbs.

theeditor
theeditor

Geno is a keeper. But it is very clear the Jets do not have enough talent on offense. One play the jets had 4 receivers out in a pattern and none of the 4 could shake their DB. So Geno had to throw ball away. And this is the Browns secondary.

We need a #1TE, a #1 WR and a #1 RB. Also a couple of OL who can actually block.

I hope Woody opens up his purse strings this year to help build an offense that can scare people.

DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

What has Geno's adjusted accuracy been week to week? The numbers, such as 55% completion for the year, or 20-36 (55%) yesterday, don't always tell the story. Drops in some recent games and his willingness to throw the ball away are 'incompletions' that are actually positives for him. Especially in situations like when he throws a ball intentionally (and calmly) at Kerley's feet on 2nd and 12 and then picks up the first down on the next play. 

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

"Geno turned in another solid performance yesterday" & "it looks like Geno will make it to 16 starts"


Bent, you're usually right on, but those two statements threw me. First, this was his first decent performance in a long time. Mostly, he's been like a 2nd stringer in training making fundamental mistakes. Second, it was pretty much guaranteed after Idzik-Rex kept starting him after having to hull him for consecutive horrendous games that Geno would start all 16 games. This was the season of "OJT for Geno" which was unfair to Geno, Jets fans and the other players who busted their butt to win games. I feel sorry for the guys who got injured & maybe ruined careers for a season that Jets' management had essentially written off. That was Idzik's worst decision of the year.


Now for Geno's performance: good use of legs & one good back-shoulder throw on Nelson's second TD to left side of EZ. All other decent - good throws were in front of him in the center of the field, so that concerns me going forward. Any reasonable DC will have someone / anyone cover the middle and force Geno to look elsewhere. Miami will definitely do that and maybe drop a LB in the middle for an easy pick where Geno has not seen him in the past.


Now I wanted Geno to start over Sanchez this year, but had no idea he was so unprepared for the NFL. It also seems like the Jets had no idea & didn't do their homework or they wouldn't have occupied the QB slots with Garrard who physically can't play and Simms who they've decided can't play.

Going forward: 

1. The hated Phins will cover the middle of the field, INT Geno and win.

2. Rex will be gone for an offensive HC:  Idzik will bring in his own man. 

3. Although the Jets should draft a QB to compete with Geno, that decision will depend on the new offensive HC's opinion. If he wants to blow off his first 16 games to training Geno they'll draft WR, OL or TE. However, if he wants to CYA they'll draft another QB to compete and also bring in a vet who can play (yikes!) as insurance.

4. After 16 games, Geno is roughly at the level of a raw NFL backup. I always like what he says, but he has a whole mix of sound fundamentals to learn before he can really focus on reads and refining his game. He has talent, but a long road to travel and more talented guys like Jason Campbell have not made it to franchise QB so are the Jets willing to tie their next 3-5 years to Geno's possible development? That's not too bright.

5. Idzik had 2 off-season successes: Richardson & Ivory (draft & trade, respectively). He must have a stronger 2nd off-season.

6. The new offensive HC shouldn't clean house. He should keep most defensive coaches, (e.g.,  Karl Dunbar) who have an excellent defensive record or he will be upgrading the offense while destroying the defense. Smart managers keep what's good and fix what's bad otherwise you're chasing your tail.

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

I think it'll make a huge difference if he finishes out the season in Miami with another decent game.  Perhaps even the difference between competing against a vet and a newly drafted QB next year and competing against a vet and Matt Simms.

ww85
ww85

Still hope there is a QB competition in camp. Want to see a vet and another draftee battle it out with Geno. You can't derive too much from 2 full garbage time games.  BRING BACK REX!

SackDance99
SackDance99

The most important factor in assessing a rookie is to see if he's improving.  Geno is improving.  He's running the WCO more effectively and his passing is getting sharper.  More importantly, he's being decisive.  He has a lot to improve upon and there's no doubt that better offensive weapons would help him.  I'd like to see another positive performance and win against the Dolphins.  If he gets to 8 rookie wins with this team, I think we'd have a lot to be optimistic about as the one failing Geno seems to have is not playing as confidently and decisively on the road.

Bent
Bent

@theeditor Would that be the one play where the announcer said that's what happened but in actual fact Holmes was wide open, as shown above?


Still think Marcus Lattimore is better than Chris Ivory?

jaygo
jaygo

@DarrolRayFanClub 


I agree that the stats are overrated.  When given a little time like yesterday, and when he has three NFL quality receivers like yesterday, and when the running game is working a bit like yesterday, he very much looks the part of a legit NFL QB.

Brendan
Brendan

@DarrolRayFanClub PFF doesn't list their accuracy percentage stat in game-log form, but Geno's for the season is 67.2%. That's a league-low for QB's who have played 50% of the snaps, but it at least shows that when he's not throwing it away, he's pretty good at finding his mark. 

Joe De Sr.
Joe De Sr.

One game against a weak team is meaningless . Geno is not a winning QB! Sign a vet....

.

Dave Yish
Dave Yish

@SackDance994 of his 7 wins are against teams that are 4-10 or worse. Are you trying to tell me that Geno Smith is getting better because he finally completed more than half his passes against the woeful Raiders and Browns?


He lost already to the Dolphins. Lets see if he improves on that performance this Sunday in the repeat.

a57se
a57se

@SackDance99 

That was not the WCO he was running yesterday. MM has completely reworked his offense and it is about 3/4's of what Geno ran in college. Geno is rarely under center anymore and the overwhelming majority of his throws are in the 1-10 yard range where he is best.

One of the few times Geno ran a WCO play was in the second half where he set up under center, took a three stop drop then fired to Holmes on the left and threw the ball high and behind him. The TV crew cut to MM on the sideline and you could see he was really pissed as it was a poor throw because of Geno's footwork. On the replay it was easy to see that Geno's feet were too far apart and that will cause a high throw all day.

Please don't take this as an attack on Geno, he played very well yesterday and he can run the type of offense MM has morphed the Jets into, I just don't know if it is sustainable in the NFL. 

If he keeps working on his footwork, maybe he'll get it sorted out and they will be able to incorporate more of the three step, and 5 step game into the offense but right now Geno is not ready for that.

Bent
Bent

@Brendan @DarrolRayFanClub You can filter week by week.


Last three weeks 73.9%, 63% and 72.4%.


Middle of the pack twice and fourth worst once.


Definitely improvement on being dead last.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se@SackDance99Vick, Garcia and McNabb routinely ran MM's WCO in the shotgun.  Of course, you had to pick on one of the few passes that Geno was off on.  Holmes also had 2 bad drops, one on a beautifully thrown deep in route.  Also, twice receivers (Nelson and Kerley) broke stride on deep balls looking back too soon and the balls were thus overthrown.  BUt, it appeared to me that the routes were all classic WCO.  Lots of crossing patterns and seam routes.


Of course, this offense is "sustainable."  In today's NFL, there are quite a few QBs who are rarely under center and are primarily in no huddle (or huddle) shotgun formations, like Foles, Peyton, Cutler, Rivers, Luck, Flynn/Rodgers, etc.  The trend is to deviate from the shotgun for "run" formations (which teams sometimes pass out of).  But, the QBs I just mentioned have as their base formation the shotgun.  Even Wilson's base offense for the pass is the shotgun, it's just that Seattle runs so well that Wilson's only in the shotgun 1/2 the time.  Cutler, Flynn/Rodgers and Wilson are all in WCO offenses.


Was Geno perfect yesterday?  No, he had 3 balls batted down, he was off on another 3.  But, he also had a couple of drops and I saw, at least, 3 routes that weren't run correctly.  I'd like to see more passes downfield, but his receivers aren't the best at creating separation.  IMO, Geno is a much better QB technique-wise than you do and his running ability is far better than he showed in college.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Wait, the WCO doesn't have the majority of its throws in the 1-10 yard range? 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Jesus christ. I said he is league-low, so I am clearly not arguing that. The difference between his adjusted accuracy % and his completion % is larger than most other QB's, indicating he has more drops/throwaways/etc. than most other QB's, as a % of his passes. 


He's getting better, you can acknowledge it or continue to knock him whenever you please, but the truth is he's getting better. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan@a57se 

If completing a pass almost 3/4 of the time (according to that metric) is a league low then isn't he worse at it then his peers?

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Because he completes a pass almost 3/4 of the time?

a57se
a57se

@Brendan

Wouldn't it be just as unfair to draw conclusions on a player's entire yet-to-happen career based off of what he did between the ages of 18 and 22?

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I'm not starting an argument, I just find it very strange that you view things in black and white like this. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan@a57se 

You view that as defending Simms, I view that as stating a fact.

I don't know why you are trying to start an argument over this.....

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se "I don't defend Simms" 


- a57se, last week. 

Simms was kept because the team thought he had more potential than McElroy, not because he outplayed him. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan@a57se 

Neither were drafted so to me, they were in the same boat. Romo was cut and moved to the practice squad while SImms was just cut after his first camp. 

If Simms signing was just a favor to his dad like has been suggested then he would NOT have been back this season. The Jets coaching staff obviously saw something in him they liked just like the Cowboys coaches saw something they liked in Tony Romo his first year. There have been TONS of UDFA QB's who never saw an NFL training camp again after their first one who had better college careers then most.

The bottom line is once you are out of College, it doesn't mean a hill of beans if you can't perform. 

SImms showed enough last year to get another shot in jets camp this year, he was told what he needed to improve and he did it. Then he went to training camp and won the back-up job from successful college QB and National Championship team QB Greg McElroy. he didn't do that because he is a schlub........he has to have some talent to be on the team.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I don't know how you compare the two. Tony Romo started over 30 games over three seasons and the only reason he wasn't drafted (despite doing well at the combine and pre-draft workouts) was because he came from a small school. There was a bidding war between the Cowboys and the Broncos (Sean Payton vs. Mike Shanahan) with Romo ultimately choosing Dallas. 


Simms never had Romo's success in the college ranks, never had anyone high on him out of college and the Jets were the only team vying for his services. Very different situations. 

a57se
a57se

@Bent@a57se@Brendan 

Hey, if you have been following this conversation, you'll see I explained that to FJF!

I am proof you CAN teach an old DOG new tricks!

SackDance99
SackDance99

@frustjetfn@DarrolRayFanClubI don't think a rookie QB's first season says anything about whether he's a winner or loser.  It's what he does in his 2nd season and beyond.  I'll just toss this out there.  Jay Cutler was 2-3 in his 5 rookie starts and didn't have a winning season until his 5th as a pro.  He now owns a modest 56-47 record in his 103 starts.  Is Cutler a winner?

Bent
Bent

@a57se @Brendan Are you REALLY comparing Matt Simms to Tony Romo?


REALLY???


(See how this goes?)

a57se
a57se

@Brendan@a57se 

Why not? Tony Romo was one of those schlubs and just like your analogy about Peyton only winning three games his rookie season, you never know for sure unless you keep an open mind.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se So if the Jets took a QB #1 overall and brought in some schlub from a D3 school to be camp fodder...they should be treated identically? 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Sigh. 


I'm not going over this again. Simms is not a good QB, he's never been a good QB, and he is a long-term developmental backup QB project. That's what the team's setting as his ceiling, the long-term backup. 


They want Geno to be the long-term starter, I should not have to explain to you why those situations are different. 

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

@DarrolRayFanClub@frustjetfnThat's fair, but then what's the point: that some rooks improve? We all agree. 

We can also agree that judging based on the first 16 games is unfair, but teams do it all the time and on a lot less of a sample. Not every rook gets 16 games to screw up or learn via OJT. That's a sign of desperation. That there's no one else in the world that you can beg, borrow or steal that you think is worthy to start or  are willing to give a chance. Of course,  you could just be a GM covering your butt on a draft mistake.

a57se
a57se

@Brendan@a57se 

I don't and I am not. 

I just think the same standard should apply to Simms that is used for Geno.

I also think the same standard that was applied to Sanchez should be applied to Geno.

I look for consistency in approach and when it isn't there, I call it out.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Hey, remember when you said you don't defend Simms the other day? That was fun. 

a57se
a57se

@Bent@a57se@frustjetfn 

Well if you can't say a QB is a winner or not after  one season, how can you completely dismiss a QB who only played a handful of series?

Brendan
Brendan

@DarrolRayFanClub I'm not writing astro-physics equations, I don't get how those types of comments are so hard to understand. 

Bent
Bent

@a57se @frustjetfn He also isn't comparing Peyton with Geno, he's merely disputing whether you can say that ANY quarterback is not a winner after just one season.


Using an extreme example such as Manning gives us our answer:


No.


DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

@frustjetfn  @DarrolRayFanClub@a57se@frustjetfn@Brendan@Willie Mays


Replace Manning with any other rookie that improved then.

a57se
a57se

@frustjetfn 

He isn't trying to compare Geno to Peyton rooike to rookie, apparently.

He is just trying to say that it is too soon to pass judgment on Geno's career.

It would be a lot clearer if he just said that instead of putting Peyton Manning in there.

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

@DarrolRayFanClub@a57se@frustjetfn@Brendan@Willie Mays Jr.Was just saying you can't justify staying with Geno by using Peyton as an example. Rookie to rookie it's ludicrous. Peyton stayed in college an additional year to avoid being drafted by the Jets, had mucho experience & was tutored in the game by his NFL QB father as a youth. Geno had none of that.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se That is correct, I am showing that drawing broad conclusions on a player's entire yet-to-happen career based on his first season isn't wise or fair. 

DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

@a57se @frustjetfn @Brendan @Willie Mays Jr. Yes -- it's all relative. A second round pick developing and later reaching his potential after a rookie season does not mean he had the same potential that Peyton Manning did. Just pointing out that you can reach your potential after a bad rookie season. Geno's ceiling is not as high as Peyton's obviously, but it's certainly higher than what he's shown us so far.

a57se
a57se

@frustjetfn@Brendan@Willie Mays Jr. 

I get in trouble for this all the time FJF, he is not comparing Geno to Peyton, just illustrating how even a great QB only won 3 games his rookie year so there is hope for Geno...or something like that.

DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

@Brendan @Willie Mays Jr. I think Mays has a point -- after just three wins and 28 interceptions, the Colts signed veteran Steve Walsh to be Manning's backup and the next year they won 13 games with Manning going to the Pro Bowl with 4,000 yards.


Sign a vet indeed!

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

@Brendan@Willie Mays Jr.Are you REALLY comparing Geno to Peyton Manning? C'mon, Brendan. Geno's fundamentals, leadership and game understanding are not even in the same universe. But on the bright side, I guess you're predicting Geno will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. :)

SackDance99
SackDance99

@ww85@SackDance99It's just a much different game now.  There's little differences (like microphones in the QB's helmet) to the huge differences in roughing the QB and chucking receivers.  With the receiving weapons that Montana had with the 49ers, he'd be like Peyton today, rarely under center.  Roger Craig would be deadly in today's NFL because he would've been awesome as the single back...he was great at pass blocking and a great receiver...he'd be like Knowshon Moreno to the 3rd power.  And, how great would Marcus Allen be today?  Plus, Montana WAS mobile...very good on roll outs, he just had to dial it back because he was a tad injury-prone.

ww85
ww85

@SackDance99 If Joe Montana was mobile, I'm sure Walsh would have run the WCO from the shotgun. I I think it's easier to call audibles from under center, but every team in the NFL runs derivatives of the WCO during a game.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se@SackDance99@BrendanScaling back the passing game was Rex's call and he said it was a mistake and he was right.  Passing only when down and distance requires worked well in the 70s, not today.

a57se
a57se

@SackDance99@a57se@Brendan 

Yes he did, he incorporated more of a power running game when he scaled back the passing game after the Tenn.  debacle.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se@BrendanI also think MM changed his offense to suit Ivory.  MM hasn't really had a lot of RBs like Ivory...tough interior runners.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se@BrendanBut, you are sounding like the 0-4 under center was all Geno's fault.  I'd have to see the plays before I could say they were indicative of anything.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@ww85@BrendanCutler and Flynn/Rodgers run "real" WCOs and they're rarely under center.  And, when they are, it's usually a run formation.  In fact, it's getting to be in the NFL that most QBs are spending the majority of their snaps in the shotgun.  It's a passing league.

a57se
a57se

@Brendan@a57se 

I get misinterpreted as much as people accuse me of misinterpreting others.....just making sure.

Earlier in the season Marty was saying that he was still learning about his QB. I think that process has worked itself out and MM can come up with more effective Game plans now. The last two weeks, the game plans have been really, really good and played to Geno's strengths while still attempting to incorporate some of the timing elements he needs to learn (the 0-4 from under Center). MM has made Geno's reads easier as well as adjusted his WR routes to make the throws required match up more with Geno's field vision. There is nothing wrong with tailoring the offense to your QB and to the strengths of your offense........

Kyle Shanahan did an excellent job of this with RG3 last season as did Mike Sherman with Tannehill in Miami.

Neither one has showed much progress this year and some would argue RG3 has regressed.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I'm not taking what you said personally or anything, just discussing it. And I agree about the flexibility bit. 

Brendan
Brendan

@ww85 "everything is a hybrid of everything anyway"


Exactly. Calling Marty's offense a WCO is like calling Rex's defense a "3-4." 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan 

I am not trying to make a big deal out of anything Brendan. I am not attacking Geno or putting him down. I am just making observations about how Marty has adjusted the offense to suit his QB. I think Marty has done a wonderful job in being flexible enough to do this. Schotty was incapable of this kind of flexibility.

ww85
ww85

@Brendan For a real WCO, you do need to be effective under center, calling audibles etc. But in today's NFL, everything is a hybrid of everything anyway. If Geno can effectively throw the ball before the WR hits the spot, he'll be OK.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se They ran quite a few plays that were timing routes yesterday, I think you're exaggerating how much "college offense" they ran. 


And the "under center" thing is not the accurate indicator you make it seem like, the pistol formation is now used league-wide and is not a Geno-thing, it's something everyone is incorporating into their offenses, even Peyton does it. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan@a57se 

In the WCO, timing routes are the norm and Geno does not do well on those yet. Bent could probably tell us how many snaps Geno took under center on passing plays but there were not many.......