Smith got his NFL career started off on the right foot with a crazy 18-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He finished the game going 24-for-38 with 256 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a fumble. None of that was as important as when he ran out of bounds and was hit by Lavonte David, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty that set up the game-winning field goal.
The Jets are obviously thrilled to get the win, but they still need a true leader on the team to lead them through the rest of the season. Smith had a good game, even with the two turnovers, and is looking to take the reigns.
The lack of leadership is even more obvious with the recent news about Mark Sanchez. According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Sanchez is reported to have a torn labrum that could end his 2013 season.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez is likely to have surgery after Dr. James Andrews confirmed he has a labral tear in right shoulder, per league sources— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 12, 2013
If Sanchez wants to take the rehab option to avoid surgery altogether - which is no guarantee - he could still end up on injured reserve— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 12, 2013
Regardless of what you think of Sanchez, he was still one of the more established presences in the locker room, and his absence is certainly a blow to a team that's struggling to not crash and burn this season.
The quarterback is usually expected to be the leader, and that's certainly the case for the Jets, who have a serious lack of talent on offense. Week 1 was a good start for Smith, especially after putting up 300 total yards and leading his team to a fourth quarter comeback.
David may have helped the Jets with his penalty, but it was still Smith that kept them in the game.
You want to see your leader say the right things on and off the field as well. A report by Ian O'Connor of ESPN New York had some great quotes after the win from Smith and others:
"It wasn't a Hollywood script," guard Willie Colon said. "It wasn't 'Remember the Titans' or anything like that. It was just Geno telling us that if we give him some protection we'll find a way."
"The kid," [Rex] Ryan said, "showed a great deal of poise."
"I don't like to brag on myself," Smith said. "Resilience is something that you have to have at this position, and that's something that I think was always instilled in me at an early age.
"I'm never going to panic. I'm never in panic mode. It's a game. It's something that I've been playing my entire life."
It already appears that Smith is earning the trust of everyone around him, and that's a very positive sign for a rookie quarterback. While it will be hard for Smith to save Rex Ryan's job, it's good to see that Ryan is starting to have faith in his new QB.
Things aren't going to get easier for Smith, however. The Jets will be facing the New England Patriots on Thursday night, and they have games against the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints before heading into their Week 10 bye.
For now, Smith is off to a good start, but he's going to need to continue to earn the trust of his teammates and the coaching staff if the Jets want to turn things around from 2012.