Geno Smith Shouldn't Be Written off After Narrow Loss to Tom Brady's Patriots

Sep 12, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) warms up prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2013

Despite Geno Smith's struggles in Week 2, there's reason to be excited if you're a New York Jets fan.

On the whole, Smith didn't play all that well in New York's 13-10 loss to the New England Patriots. He looked shaky in the pocket at times and made his fair share of mistakes. His numbers didn't make for great reading either: 15-of-35 for 214 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

Not Bill Walton had the best analogy for Smith's third pick, which all but ended New York's chance of winning.

You have to put this game in perspective, though. Smith came into an almost no-win situation, and his receivers certainly didn't make life easy on him by dropping a number of catchable balls (looking at you, Clyde Gates). 

The rookie signal-caller has to carry the expectations of a fanbase desperate to have a franchise quarterback—a difficult task, given that the Jets faithful have torn down pretty much every QB before him. As if that's not enough, in his second career start, he had to go into Foxborough with what was one of the league's worst offenses last year and try to outperform Tom Brady.

And he almost did. Sure, Brady was missing most of his weapons in the passing game, but Smith didn't have much more to work with.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News thought it was a solid performance from the rookie.

Smith became the unquestioned starter after Mark Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury that, according to ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen, will likely require surgery.

Had he not gotten injured, the former USC Trojan would have likely been starting against the Patriots. According to a tweet from NFL Network's Rich Eisen, that claim came from a very reliable source—some guy named Mark Sanchez.

Having Sanchez out of the way could be a good thing for Smith. Now there's not going to be a quarterback controversy with his primary competition sidelined. Additionally, nobody is expecting a rookie quarterback to take this Jets team to the postseason.

Coming out of West Virginia, everybody could see Smith had his issues. He didn't have the best mechanics or footwork, which hurt his accuracy and consistency. When under pressure, he had a hard time reading the blitz, and he would also continue dropping further back rather than stepping up in the pocket and delivering the ball.

Smith was a draft prospect who would need time to develop. He wasn't the kind of instant-impact QB who could make a seamless transition to the NFL. With experience, he could become a very good game-manager and possibly be a Pro Bowl-caliber signal-caller down the road.

There used to be a time when rookie quarterbacks were essentially redshirted. They sat on the sidelines holding a clipboard while getting used to the NFL.

It doesn't feel like that long ago when the Cincinnati Bengals sat No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer for his entire rookie season, letting Jon Kitna handle the starting duties. That decision allowed Palmer to watch and learn. In his third season, he emerged as a Pro Bowl quarterback who led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005.

That strategy has taken a 180, and rookies are played as soon as possible, inexperience be damned. There's too much money invested in high draft picks to have them sit on the bench, and the recent play of rookie QBs has given the impression that there's no adjustment period necessary.

Some guys can walk right onto the field and look like a Pro Bowl quarterback. Others need time to bed in.

To completely write Smith off right now is a mistake. He's two games into his NFL career. Give him at least a season, Jets fans, before you start throwing him under the bus.

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