Steelers vs. Jets: Geno Smith Must Build on Week 5 Performance

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2013

Sep 15, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;  New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) at MetLife Stadium before the game against the Buffalo Bills. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Geno Smith was outstanding on Monday Night Football as he led the New York Jets to victory over the Atlanta Falcons, but one good game doesn't erase his early-season woes. He must continue his fine play against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 6 in order for the Jets to win the game.

The rookie out of West Virginia threw three touchdown passes in the game against Atlanta, which made him just the second rookie quarterback to do so in the history of Monday Night Football, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info: 

Even better, he didn't turn the ball over once, which proved to be the difference in the closely contested game. 

After beating Atlanta, the Jets are in great shape heading into Week 6—just one game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East with a record of 3-2. 

If the Jets are to be taken seriously as a playoff contender in the AFC, then Smith must build upon his turnover-free performance in Atlanta. 

He has already thrown eight interceptions this season, and before his flawless performance against the Falcons, he had turned the ball over 11 times, as noted by Russell Baxter of Bleacher Report:

If ever there was a scenario that appeared to benefit a turnover-prone rookie quarterback, then Smith and the Jets have it this weekend. 

Up next are the winless Steelers, who are visiting after a bye week. Pittsburgh's 0-4 start is its first since 1968, and it has yet to force a single turnover, as noted by NFL on ESPN:

One of the reasons Smith has turned the ball over so often this year is that his offensive line has struggled to protect him. Through five games, the rookie has been sacked 18 times, which is the second-worst mark in the league. 

Thankfully, as far as Smith is concerned, not only have the Steelers failed to create turnovers, but the team has only generated four sacks this season—the lowest total of any team in the league.

Pittsburgh is a proud franchise, and you know head coach Mike Tomlin will have his players focused for this game. That said, this game should be a platform for Smith to continue growing as a passer. He won't be under heavy pressure, and Pittsburgh's secondary isn't nearly as imposing as it once was. 

One big challenge he must overcome is the loss of tight end Kellen Winslow, who was suspended by the NFL for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, as reported by Kieran Darcy of ESPN New York.

The Jets will be able to overcome Winslow's absence in this game, however.

Pittsburgh's offensive line is a veritable sieve, and New York's dominant defensive front will own the line of scrimmage. The Steelers won't have much success on offense this weekend, and as such, the Jets don't need Smith to win the game with his arm.

All he needs to do is protect the football while taking what Pittsburgh's defense gives him.

If he can put together his second-straight turnover-free game, then the Jets will win the game at home and move to 4-2 on the season.


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