Geno Smith Set to Have Rocky NFL Debut Against Buccaneers

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2013

Aug 9, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to the sidelines in the second quarter of a preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith is in for a disappointing start to his NFL career.

Smith has officially been named the starter for New York when the team welcomes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to town in Week 1 per ESPN's Adam Schefter:

The announcement comes as an anti-climactic ending to a less-than-thrilling preseason battle between Smith and veteran Mark Sanchez.

New York needs (and desperately wants) Smith to step up and lay claim to the starting job for good, but even head coach Rex Ryan will not commit to Smith for anything past the opener as he told the media via Dan Hanzus of

...The fact we're playing Darrelle Revis and those two stud safeties and all that, it's going to be challenging. But I think our guys are ready to rally behind Geno...In all honesty, like we said before, that clearly our focus is strictly on Tampa and we're not looking past Tampa. It doesn't make sense for us to look past Tampa.

There's a reason Ryan won't commit to Smith. If Smith's performance against the Bucs is anything like his preseason work, the Jets will be forced to make a change if Sanchez is healthy.

Smith was mediocre in his first preseason action before rolling his ankle, but completely imploded against the New York Giants with three interceptions and a safety after he ran untouched out of the back of his own end zone:

Those stud safeties and the man by the name of Darrelle Revis Ryan mentioned? They're going to give Smith fits.

Second-year safety Mark Barron is coming off a stellar rookie debut with 89 total tackles. He's joined by free-agent acquisition Dashon Goldson, who is fresh off a Super Bowl appearance with San Francisco and ranking as the No. 20 overall safety in the NFL last season according to ProFootballFocus (subscription required).

As if that combo for a rookie quarterback weren't bad enough, Revis is ready to go for his debut with the Buccaneers and first contest against his old team:

Revis was the No. 1 ranked corner in all of football in 2011 per ProFootballFocus before going down last season with a knee injury. If Revis is on the field it essentially eliminates the side he's covering as an option for Smith. 

Revis' presence alone has already thrown up negative warning signs around Smith, as the signal-caller told the media per Will Brinson of CBS Sports that he doesn't need to study Revis as a way to prepare for the game:

I mean, I don't think it's necessary...Maybe I will, maybe I won't. You pretty much get the idea of what kind of player he is based on his reputation...I mean, we all know about Revis...Basically from talking to Mark, talking to our personnel guys around here. If you talk to anyone in this locker room they'll let you know when healthy [Revis is] one of the best if not the best corner in the game. He's the guy you definitely have to pay attention to on the field.


So a rookie quarterback on a team that just traded the best corner in football away and has every second of film from the guy's pro career and a coaching staff that knows the ins and outs of his game just isn't studying in preparation?

Hopefully Smith is either horrible at speaking to the media or throwing them curveballs for some unknown reason, because any quarterback not studying his opposition and basing what he knows off hear-say is doomed to fail.

There are a lot of things Smith needs to do better, such as not throw off the top of his toes when under pressure, progress better through his reads, improve his decision making and increase his field awareness.

But above all, Smith must excel in a leadership role and allow his play to uplift the questionable talent around him.

There are plenty of reasons Geno Smith fell to the second round of the NFL Draft and was not the first quarterback off the board. Some of those issues are already beginning to make themselves known.

Smith was going to have a rough start against a tough defense with little help in Week 1 against Tampa Bay either way, but he certainly isn't doing himself any favors along the way. The most Jets fans can hope for at this point is a healthy Smith emerging from the contest with a positive learning experience.

Expecting much else, given the events after Smith's draft selection to this point, is simply unreasonable.



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