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Eric Smith: Stay or Go?

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It's very nice to have power in my home again after the storm knocked it out last night.

Eric Smith was a pleasant surprise for the Jets in 2009. It didn't seem like the new coaching staff had a ton of faith in him right off the bat. The Jets matched the offer sheet Abram Elam signed from Cleveland and signed Jim Leonhard as a free agent. It seemed like that would take away Smith's playing time. Then the Mark Sanchez trade sent Elam to Cleveland, and Smith became the primary backup at safety. He saw extensive time in subpackages and played well starting in place of Kerry Rhodes after Kerry's midseason benching.

Smith is an overachiever. He's not very gifted naturally. I get the feeling the way Eric Mangini reached for him in the third round of the 2006 Draft has probably hurt the perceptions of him. If he had gone in the mid to late rounds like he should have, people would probably be impressed by the way he's overcome his physical limitations to become a productive player. Because he went so high, his inability to lock down a starting job has become something of a disappointment.

There are certain things Smith does well and certain things he does not do well. Rex had him blitz more than any other defensive back on the roster, which is telling considering he wasn't a full time player. He's aggressive and registered 8 pressures and 2 hits. He's also strong against the run. Where his lack of athleticism comes into play is in coverage. You can hide him underneath if he's got help, but he's in trouble in space against a fast running back or covering a good tight end over an extended period. While he is fundamentally sound, he's really not a starter.

Smith is a restricted free agent, and the Jets will tender him. I'm inclined to hope the team lets him walk for a Draft pick. The Jets can use that pick to fill a hole. Smith is useful, but he's really a spare part on the defense. Rex seems to like him so I do expect the team to bring him back. I don't have a big problem with that. Smith does some good things on the field.