New York Jets

New York Jets Must Give Geno Smith at Least 1 More Year

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 29: Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets throws the ball against the Miami Dolphins on December 29, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Jets defeated the Dolphins 20-7. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 31, 2014

Please be patient with young NFL quarterbacks. 

Sure, it's not particularly easy to do so living and breathing in today's instant-gratification, waiting-averse society, but we must hold off making concrete judgments on young signal-callers after one season, that's for sure.

Geno Smith is one of those young signal-callers who mustn't be buried yet. After "falling" to the second round of the 2013 draft, the former West Virginia star completed less than 56 percent of his passes at a pedestrian 6.88 yards per attempt, with 12 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and an uninspiring QB rating of 66.5 in 16 starts for the New York Jets as a rookie. 

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Gang Green's head coach, Rex Ryan, said Smith came "a million miles" during his first NFL season but didn't officially name him the starter for the 2014 campaign.

If Rex hasn't given up on Geno, no one should.

It's become rather obvious, but can't be stressed enough—the 2012 quarterback class, and let's include Colin Kaepernick in this as well—spoiled us. It falsely altered the expectations for all rookie signal-callers. 

Are quarterbacks entering the NFL today better prepared than they were, say, 10 or 15 years ago? Probably, but that doesn't mean they all must perform like Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck did in their first professional campaigns or be cut immediately. 

Let's take out the 2012 class and look back 10 years. Dating back to Byron Leftwich in 2003, here's how quarterbacks who threw at least 200 passes in their rookie seasons and were drafted between the first and third rounds fared:

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 27:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins goes to his knees after throwing an interception during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on October 27, 2013
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The irony in the immediate success of Luck, Wilson, Griffin III and Kaepernick—success that many crave from rookie quarterbacks now—is that two of those four regressed considerably in their sophomore NFL seasons.

Heck, even some of Wilson's statistics dipped in 2013. 

So, the mystical idea that those four youngsters would only improve upon their sparkling rookie debuts as professionals kind of took a nosedive this year.  

Rookie Quarterback Numbers Over The Past Decade
PlayerCompletion%TD%INT%Sack%Yards/Comp.
Byron Leftwich57.23.33.84.311.8
Kyle Boller51.83.147.110.9
Ben Roethlisberger66.45.83.79.213.4
Jason Campbell53.14.82.93.311.8
Kyle Orton51.62.43.57.59.8
Vince Young51.53.43.66.512
Matt Leinart56.82.93.25.311.9
Trent Edwards56.12.634.310.8
Matt Ryan61.13.72.53.813
Joe Flacco603.32.8711.6
Matthew Stafford53.33.45.3611.3
Mark Sanchez53.83.35.56.712.5
Josh Freeman54.53.46.26.511.7
Sam Bradford603.12.55.49.9
Jimmy Clausen52.5139.99.9
Colt McCoy60.82.74.19.411.7
Cam Newton604.13.36.313.1
Blaine Gabbert50.82.92.78.810.5
Christian Ponder54.34.54.59.311.7
Andy Dalton58.13.92.54.411.3
Averages56.13.383.636.5511.53
Geno Smith's 201355.82.74.78.812.3
Pro Football Reference

Should teams hope their quarterback begins his NFL career a with high completion percentage, high touchdown rate and robust yards-per-attempt average? 

Without a doubt.  

But if those quarterbacks don't run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year or find themselves as a dark horse for the league MVP right away, it doesn't mean they're predestined for failure.  

The media, fans and, most importantly, owners seemed to have created a three-year trial period for nearly every coach and general manager to get it right, and organizations must stay dedicated to the young quarterback they decided to select early during that time frame.

Oct 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) lays injured after a sack by Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (94) (not pictured) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandato
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Prematurely abandoning them is, almost always, an irrational and shortsighted way to get rid of the guy playing the most important position and shouldering all the criticism. The goat.

Why's it irrational? 

Though we're quick to jettison a player, we usually aren't exactly sure how to find the correct replacement. Moreover, based on history, that "next" quarterback is probably going to struggle in his rookie season. 

Then where are you as a franchise?

You're swirling in a terrible circle of mediocrity when you probably should have focused your efforts on building around the quarterback you drafted in the first place. 

Maybe teams simply hope the next quarterback will be an Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning or Drew Brees—which isn't very likely. 

Is Smith en route to becoming an elite NFL signal-caller? No one knows. Because the term "elite" itself speaks to an exceptionally small group, though, we shouldn't count on it. 

However, do we know that he'll never "make it" as a professional quarterback in this league? After 16 games played behind a porous offensive line with an atrocious cast of offensive weapons? 

Absolutely not.

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