A few weeks back, we got a comment here from somebody who thought GGN was doing too much to hype Geno Smith. He said sarcastically, "Geno! Geno The Leader! Geno the Intellectual! Geno the Future! Geno the Franchise! Geno the Playbook! Geno Manning! Geno Montana!" Well, on Sunday, the Jets might need to see "Geno the Scrambler." Geno Smith's ability to gain yardage with his legs when things break down could be very important.
At this early point in his career, Geno seems to struggle with the pass rush. Too frequently he has held the ball for too long. That resulted in the fumble against the Buccaneers. Geno was at least partially responsible for all four sacks he took last week against the Patriots. His passing stats under pressure are also not pretty.
One thing that has stuck out has been his scrambling or lack of it. Against the Buccaneers, he was able to make something out of nothing consistently when under pressure. He gained 47 yards on 6 carries as a runner. He was bottled up more against the Patriots, and that might have been an understated reason as to why the Jets lost.
As we know, Mike Pettine is likely to throw a number of different looks to try and confuse the rookie quarterback. The Bills will try to create confusion and blown assignments on the offensive line. Their looks will also be intended to trick the rookie. Expect some exotic blitzes.
When these happen, Geno's scrambling will take center stage. There are many ways to beat a blitz. One is for the quarterback and receivers to both read what is happening quickly. If they are on the same page, the receiver will adjust his route and run quickly into the area vacated by a blitzing defender. The quarterback will get the ball out quickly. That probably is not something the Jets can lean on. As a rookie quarterback, Geno is not familiar with a lot of the fronts he will see. Odds are he will see looks on Sunday that he has never seen before. He also still is getting used to his new receivers, and some of those receivers just cannot be trusted to make the right read in those situations.
What Geno can do is use his legs and pick up yardage on the ground. If he sees running lanes, he needs to hit them and catch the blitzing defenders up the field and out of position to scramble. That might be the best way to beat the blitz.
Do not misunderstand the point. Geno will have to hit passes under pressure for the Jets to win. It just might not be realistic for him to play spectacular as a passer when the Bills bring the heat. He can make up for that by rushing effectively. That can move the chains, flip field position, and extend critical drives.
Of course, the same is true on the other side. The Jets need to contain E.J. Manuel as a runner. They will be showing him exotic looks as well. They cannot allow him to get loose.