Geno Smith Needs to Show Poise in First Career Start

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 24:  Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets passes against the New York Giants during their pre season game at MetLife Stadium on August 24, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Jets are expected to have a rough season in 2013, but rookie quarterback Geno Smith needs to be poised in his first professional start.

Coach Rex Ryan held a quarterback competition during the preseason, but an injury to Mark Sanchez cleared the way for the coach to make a decision. As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported, Smith was named the starting quarterback.

It's unclear as to how long Smith will remain the starter. He may get benched if he's struggling when Sanchez is healthy, or he could be the starter for the entire season. 

Smith needs to take this week as any other start and not an audition. Any pressure that he puts on himself is unnecessary. His team is going to struggle on offense, so he needs to relax and play his game.

Playing in New York is going to be tough enough. He will be scrutinized every game and every snap. It will be tough to handle, and it will take an adjustment by the quarterback.

New York should have its top receiver back on the field this week. According to Dan Hanzus of, Santonio Holmes is expected to play, as he continues to come back from a severe Lisfranc fracture. Holmes played in only four games last season.

Veteran Jeremy Kerley and second-year receiver Stephen Hill will need to help Smith in the passing game if the Jets are going to be competitive this year.

The team will let Bilal Powell start at running back, but he is still somewhat of an unknown. He has less than 500 rushing yards in two seasons, and this will be his first time as the featured back.

With so little help on offense, Smith needs to play smart.

The 22-year-old will go up against a team that ranked last in the NFL in pass defense last season. Sounds like a good opponent for a rookie to make his debut against, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made major upgrades to their secondary.

Jets fans will see a familiar face on the other sidelines. The team traded All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers, and he is expected to play in Week 1 after tearing his ACL last season.

Safety Dashon Goldson also joins the secondary, and Mark Barron is looking to build on a strong rookie season. This will be a much improved pass defense. 

The key for Smith will be to avoid forcing throws. Playing in the NFL is different than college. Quarterbacks can't get away with as many mistakes in this league as they could before, and those mistakes will hurt more in the NFL.

Smith is viewed as the future of the franchise, so it would be a good start if he shows the ability to make smart decisions. He is going up against two Pro Bowlers in the secondary, and he doesn't have great receivers on his team.

He can't get frustrated if his receivers can't get open. The rookie needs to go with what the Buccaneers give him and do whatever it takes to move the football. He completed 67.4 percent of his passes and threw more than four touchdowns to every interception at West Virginia.

Smith needs to find a way make the safe throws. There are times to take risks, but his first start should consist of plays that he is comfortable running. He has a strong arm and displayed great accuracy in college, and the Jets can't afford for him to be wild.

The athletic quarterback has to use Week 1 as a learning experience. Whether the Jets win or lose, Smith has to show promising signs.

New York wants to see that he can take care of the ball, look for multiple options in a play and know when to take a sack. Most of all, the Jets need to see that he is a leader. They are a rebuilding team, and they need to see that he can push through the tough times to lead his squad.

Playing the Buccaneers will be a tough task for his debut, but Smith can earn positive reviews if he stays poised in his first career start.