It is still early in Geno Smith’s career, but does he have a better knack at getting the ball to larger targets? It’s a point that Scott Kacsmar makes for Football Outsiders in his AFC East edition of Four Downs today in which they discuss the biggest holes on each AFC East roster.
For the Jets of course it was receivers, but here’s some interesting insight from Kacsmar when talking about filling the hole through the draft:
When Rex Ryan was reaching AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez his inconsistent quarterback was throwing to talent like Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller. Those are receivers who can catch inaccurate passes and produce yards after the catch. Smith’s leading targets were Jeremy Kerley, a banged-up Holmes, Stephen Hill and David Nelson. Hill has yet to catch on in two years and Holmes may not even be back given his cap hit of over $10.7 million in 2014.
It was as cumbersome a receiving corps as the Jets have had in years, and tight end Jeff Cumberland led the team with just four receiving touchdowns. A tight end like North Carolina’s Eric Ebron could be a great addition with the 18th pick in the draft. Smith had success when throwing to similar big targets last year. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes to Kellen Winslow Jr., 64.0 percent to Nelson and 63.9 percent to Cumberland. However, Smith was just 47-of-114 passing (41.2 percent) when targeting Holmes and the still raw Hill. Those outside throws are tougher, which is why a player like Ebron would be a great security blanket over the middle for Smith.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comWe don’t expect that the Jets are about to go out and re-sign Ropati Pitoitua and convert him to flanker, but it is not a point on Smith that I would have thought to even make. Kacsmar takes a different look at the problem and I appreciate that.
It would make sense that a young-ish and less accurate quarterback could benefit from better targets, but it can’t hurt when those targets are also larger. If there’s one hole to the argument it would be that Jeremy Kerley was humming along nicely at a 60 percent catch rate and he’s probably the smallest guy of that whole bunch … but then I think that comes down to Kerley’s ability and desire over Hill and Holmes.
When it comes to the draft, the Jets are going to rank their pass catchers by whoever they think is best and expect results over their arm-span … but maybe right now with Smith when it comes down to all things being equal the arm-span measurement doesn’t hurt.