Heading into the 2014 football season many Jets fans had high hopes that Geno Smith had turned the corner at the end of last season and would be a greatly improved quarterback in 2014. Word out of training camp was all about how much more comfortable and in command Geno was, how he had improved in reading defenses, in his footwork, in his command of the offense, in his presence in the huddle, etc. I think it's safe to say that despite all the glowing preseason reviews Geno Smith has been a disappointment this season. But has he actually regressed? Let's take a look.
Let's start with the basic measuring stick of quarterbacks, passer rating. In 2013 Geno had a passer rating of 66.5; in 2014 it's 69.3. Looks like progress, albeit minimal progress, right? Well, maybe not. One has to consider that the first month of the season, when the weather is nice, favors passing statistics. So one should expect better passing numbers early in the season than later on. The league average for all of 2013 was a 84.1 passer rating, meaning Geno performed at 79.1% of league average for the 2013 season. In 2014 so far, with the nice weather of early season football, the league average is 89.3. Geno's current mark of 69.3 means he is performing at 77.6% of league average in 2014, worse than his 79.1% for all of 2013. So what on the surface looks like incremental progress is actually incremental regression.
In 2013 Geno Smith had a better passer rating than the opponent's defense's season average in 4 games, against Atlanta, Buffalo, Miami and Cleveland, and came within 4 points of the opponent's defensive average against Tennessee. In five games in 2014 Geno has yet to exceed the opponent's defensive average in passer rating, and has yet to even come within 7 points of the opponent's defensive average in passer rating.
In 2013 Geno Smith never dipped below an 8 passer rating even in his historically bad three game stretch. Geno had a 7.6 passer rating last Sunday in San Diego.
In 2013 Geno Smith never went more than 5 games without a turnover free game. In 2014 Geno has started the season with 5 straight games with at least one turnover.
In 2013 Geno Smith had 8 fumbles and lost 4. In 2014 Geno has already had 4 fumbles and lost 2, and is on pace to have 13 fumbles and lose 6.
In 2013 Geno Smith rushed for a 5.1 ypc average and rushed for 6 TDs. In 2014 Geno has a 3.6 ypc average and is on pace to rush for 3 TDs.
In 2013 Geno Smith never went more than 4 games without at least 1 game in which he completed more than 63% of his passes. In 2014 he is now in a 4 game stretch in which he has never completed more than 61% of his passes.
In 2013 Geno Smith never went more than 4 games without leading the Jets offense to 26 or more points. In 2014 Geno and the Jets have already gone 5 straight games without scoring more than 24 points.
The 2014 Geno Smith is pretty bad. That much is obvious. What may have not been quite as obvious is that he may be even worse in 2014 than he was in 2013. At the very least there is almost no statistical evidence that suggests he has improved in any meaningful way. No matter how much he may have impressed the coaches in the offseason, no matter how hard he may work, the bottom line is Geno Smith is not only not improving, he may actually be regressing. 21 games into his career that is a very alarming notion. Yes, young quarterbacks generally struggle. Yes, it takes time to develop. Yes, some take longer than others. But when you show no improvement at all, and may actually be headed in the opposite direction, the narrative that the Jets just have to be patient and let him develop wears thin. In order to develop, a quarterback actually has to show signs of improving. Thus far, those signs for Geno are largely relegated to things that can't be seen or quantified in any meaningful way in his statistical performance. If that doesn't change pretty soon, those signs will likely be shown to have just been wishful thinking all along.