Now, the days in which the unflappable rookie was saving the rest of the team from their own demise seem like decade ago.
Teams that start rookie quarterbacks lose games, sometimes in very ugly fashion. But to do so on a seemingly weekly fashion is more than enough to start to wonder as to whether or not the Jets should even consider Smith as a franchise quarterback beyond 2013.
There are a lot of reasons as to why Smith has faded so quickly. His receivers have not been available, and when they have, they drop passes and have trouble gaining separation. The offensive line has struggled mightily in pass protection. The running game has shown promise, but it has not been consistent enough to carry the load.
As a result, Smith is playing as uncomfortable as ever this season. Just by looking at his mannerisms and how long he takes to get rid of the ball, Smith is not trusting the decisions being made by himself or his teammates.
The once unflappable man who would not even get excited for Christmas is starting to feel the unbearable heat of losing in New York.
Smith was such a confident man when he brought the team back from sure defeat in Week 1 against the Buccaneers, or when he marched down the Georgia Dome to steal a win few thought the Jets would even have a chance of getting.
Smith was such a confident man when he declared that the Jets would be in the playoffs moments after being drafted.
Now, he is trying to salvage a foolish promise he is actually coming very close to making good on.
There are a lot of moving parts that go into making a quarterback look good. Receivers need to run the right routes and catch the ball, while the protection needs holds up against blitzes and stunts. When just one of those things falls apart, a quarterback starts seeing things that are not there, speeding up their thought process.
Right now, he is second-guessing every decision he makes. Doubt is creeping in before every snap, which is compounded every time a running back misses a blitzing linebacker or a receiver bobbles a pass.
The quarterback position is the most dependent position on the field, especially when it comes to a rookie. Without adequate experience, Smith has not yet adjusted to making on-the-fly adjustments at the NFL level that the best in the business make on a near play-by-play basis.
Few players face the storm of the New York market and come out victorious on the other side. When they do, they earn untouchable reputations, just as Eli Manning did. Most, however, take Mark Sanchez's route and are scorned to the point of no return.
Even if the Jets continue to sputter and miss the playoffs, Smith certainly does not deserve to be completely run out town. Instead, this is just a taste of the up-and-down nature of the NFL—one can go from being a hero to an outcast in less than a week.
As much as his supporting cast is to blame for the Jets' offensive ineptitude, odds are that his surroundings are not going to drastically improve anytime this season.
If Smith is to survive this stretch and convince the Jets' brass that he is the man for the job, he needs to draw on his greatest strength—confidence.
Smith was terrific at ignoring his pre-draft critics during the summer, just as he was able to ignore the scoreboard when the Jets were down late in the fourth quarter in so many of their wins.
Now, Smith must ignore the fact that his receivers are not getting open and are dropping passes. He must ignore the fact that he is not getting adequate protection and play as if he is capable of overcoming all of those things. After all, if he convinces himself that he can turn around this offense on his own, he just might be able to do it.
What other choice does he have?
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