The New York Jets' supposed-to-be franchise quarterback has been horrendous over the past two weeks, failing to lead his team to sufficient scoring chances. Rookie QB Geno Smith's glaring tendency to turn over the football remains prominent, despite offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg dialing back the playbook to better fit his strengths.
Smith doesn't appear ready to be a difference-maker in the NFL. The Jets shouldn't wait patiently for him to slowly develop.
Smith flashed serious potential early on in the 2013 season, demonstrating poise in clutch situations. His arm strength was a seeming asset on display against the Bills in Week 3. Smith chucked two deep touchdown passes and posted 331 passing yards to lead the Jets to a win that featured a 513-yard offensive explosion.
The rookie QB has struggled mightily to sustain any kind of substantial consistency, though, crippling the Jets' ability to put points on the scoreboard. Smith has thrown a league-high 18 interceptions in 11 games this season. He's also been sacked 37 times, losing six fumbles as a result.
Smith's indecision in the pocket frequently disrupts the Jets' rhythm on offense, often causing three-and-outs. The Jets offense is anemic, averaging fewer than 17 points per game. New York features a stout defense that typically keeps them close enough to have a chance, but Smith seldom performs at a high enough level on offense.
The 23-year-old signal-caller has been wildly inefficient, completing just 55.2 percent of his pass attempts while throwing only eight touchdowns. The Jets average 188.3 passing yards per contest, ranking second to last in the league. For the Jets to become perennial contenders in the future, they need better production from the quarterback position.
New York spent a second-round draft pick to select Smith, who was immediately touted as a possible quick-fix to the Jets' seeming Mark Sanchez-problem.
Smith showcases a total QBR that ranks among the worst in the NFL, though. If his 23.13 rating doesn't improve by the end of the regular season, the Jets need to consider drafting a quarterback, especially if they're serious about quickly becoming a strong AFC team.
New York boasts a championship-caliber defense; however, their deficient offense is headed by a faulty quarterback that lacks the skill set necessary to succeed on a weekly basis.
The Jets are arguably two key players—a top-tier starting quarterback and perennial deep-threat wide receiver—separated from legitimate supremacy in the AFC East.
Smith's discouraging development has been influenced by the Jets' lack of playmakers on offense; however, Smith's struggles are not entirely based upon that fact. He doesn't efficiently read the defense at the line of scrimmage and often fails to anticipate the blitz, especially on the blindside.
Smith also has a tendency to deliver passes off point, which enables defensive backs to jump routes and pick off pass attempts. The Jets' rookie leader hasn't demonstrated noticeable signs of improvement, prompting a need to examine alternative quarterback options this offseason.
The 2014 NFL Draft will feature a better crop of quarterback talent than last season's first-year player draft, which was headlined by E.J. Manuel and Smith. The Jets will likely possess a mid-round draft choice, which will ignite trade rumors in regards to whether general manager John Idzik should make a deal to attain a top-10 pick.
Louisville junior signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater embodies the prototype for what a future successful NFL quarterback should play like. He's improved in each season since his freshman year, becoming a front-line QB prospect. Bridgewater has completed 71 percent of his pass attempts so far this season while tossing 25 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
It's unknown if Bridgewater will officially declare for the draft, but he's considered one of the best QB prospects in the college ranks. He could be a draft target for the Jets if Smith continues to play poorly.
Other draft-eligible college quarterbacks that could help improve the Jets' 27th ranked offense include Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd and Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel.
Winning percentage is a pivotal statistic that often gets overlooked when analyzing the draft value of college quarterbacks. The Jets' current rookie QB posted a 39-24 (.722) record in college. In comparison, Manziel has gone 19-5 (.792) and Boyd, Bridgewater and Mariota have all registered 21-3 (.875) marks.
Which QB Should the Jets Ideally Target in the 2014 Draft?
Is it possible that Smith simply isn't a good enough "winner" to succeed in the NFL?
Smith has become a product of his own mistakes, seemingly adopting a defeatist mindset at the first sign of trouble. Smith demonstrated the ability to do exactly the opposite earlier in the season, but the constant brigade of turnovers has finally shaken his confidence.
It could be easily argued before the start of the 2013 season that Smith wasn't ready to be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL. The rookie QB was a symbolic entity for Jets' fans though. He was essentially the anti-Sanchize.
Now, it's become abundantly clear that Smith is equally as turnover-prone as Sanchez, if not more. The Jets' ongoing QB conundrum will be a topic of discussion leading up to the 2014 draft, when Idzik pulls the trigger on another "franchise" quarterback.