The continuation of our in-depth look at New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith through the first two weeks of the 2013 NFL regular season. The Jets drafted Geno Smith No. 39 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, their second round selection. Smith has gotten the team off to a 1-1 start with a big matchup coming up against the Buffalo Bills. Don't forget to check out Part One if you missed it!
Pocket Presence and Anticipation
One thing offensive coordinator Marty Morninhweg has done with Smith is keep him in the shotgun, where he took most of his college snaps and he looks most comfortable. Smith has been sacked nine times this season and has five turnovers this season and four of those sacks and two of those turnovers have come when he started the play under center.
Smith has started under center on less than 25% of the Jets pass plays, but those plays have accounted for almost half of his sacks and turnovers. On the play below, Smith starts under center, doesn’t take a deep enough drop and ends up throwing off his back foot for an incompletion to Holmes at the top of the screen.
In order to succeed at the NFL level, Smith will need to work on his drops and footwork from under center. NFL teams can’t stay balanced when they are in the shotgun 30 times per game, which is the case with the Jets right now. Some will blame Morninhweg for not running the football, but the Jets don’t have a back who can be effective on draw plays and his main focus is keeping Smith comfortable.
The best play Smith has had so far this season displayed almost everything a successful quarterback needs. For starters, he stays in the pocket long enough to allow Santonio Holmes time to get down the field. Smith also doesn’t flinch in the face of pressure, standing in until the last moment to release the ball.
Holmes is not open and has barely started his break outside when Smith releases the ball, but Smith anticipates the route and throws the ball exactly where it needs to be to allow Holmes to make a play. This play shows the poise and pocket presence that Smith can bring to the table along with the arm strength to make this throw and the accuracy and anticipation to put it right on target.
While Smith has also shown the ability to escape the tackle box, what’s most impressive about his pocket presence is that he keeps his eyes downfield at all times looking to make a play with his arm rather than resorting to scrambling too soon. Smith could have taken off for a short gain and set up a field goal on the play below, but instead he uses his mobility to keep the play alive for an open receiver.
Smith sees Gates running free and while the ball is thrown slightly low and behind, Smith needed to force Gates to sit down to prevent the defensive back from making a play on the ball. Smith’s extension of the play and accurate throw to Gates should have led to a touchdown and that was the ruling on the field, but it was overturned by replay as Gates couldn’t hang on.
Later on in the game, Smith faced a similar third-down situation deep in New England territory but here his aggressive mindset hurts him. Again, he does a great job of extending the play but this time faces pressure from a defender. Smith obviously feels the heat as he’s not set when he releases the ball and doesn’t point his front foot towards his target, falling off to the left instead.
This leads to the ball behind thrown behind Santonio Holmes, which results in a deflection by Kyle Arrington and an interception taking the potential tying points off the board with the Jets down 13-10 early in the fourth quarter.
This wasn’t the first time Smith showed a lack of field awareness, as his early fumble in Week 1 against Tampa Bay deep in his own territory led to great field position for the Bucs.
The plays above paint a mostly negative picture of Smith’s performance so far this season and while he has had his share of bad moments, Smith has also shown NFL-level toughness and arm talent. Sanchez’s injury has thrust Smith into the spotlight earlier than the Jets were planning and the biggest improvement Smith can make going forward is fixing his footwork issues, which will also allow the Jets to start more plays under center and create a better balance between run and pass.
If Smith can improve his footwork, he has displayed the arm strength, pocket presence and poise to be an above-average NFL quarterback. He led the Jets to a last-minute win in Week 1 and while he couldn’t duplicate the feat four days later, he owned it after the game saying that he needed to be better.
Saying nothing about his teammates dropping at least five passes against New England speaks volumes of the leader Smith can be and he’s already shown the ability to stay calm in pressure situations, while also faltering in others. It’s going to be a learning process for Smith but the potential is certainly there for him to develop into a great second-round investment for the Jets.
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- New York Jets’ Geno Smith: Breaking Down Game Tape from Weeks 1 and 2 – Part 1
- The Geno Smith Package: When Will the New York Jets Learn?
- New York Jets Name Geno Smith as Their Starting Quarterback
- New York Jets’ Geno Smith Throws Three Interceptions in First Half Vs. New York Giants
- New York Jets Quarterback Geno Smith to Skip Jets West
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