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NY Jets: Run Geno Revisited

The curious case of a running quarterback who refuses to run.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the 2014 season I wrote an article, Run, Geno, Run? describing how much better both Geno Smith and the Jets have been when Geno runs the ball, while expressing some concern he might be running the ball too much for his long term health.  Now that Smith is back in the starting lineup, presumably for the remainder of the year, and possibly beyond that depending on his performance going forward and the Jets' ability to find a replacement, I thought it might be a good time to follow up on that article.  Specifically, how much has Geno run this year and last and how has his success and the success of the Jets coincided with his running?  Here is what I found.

In eight 2014 starts Geno Smith has run the ball 35 times for 139 yards and a 4.0 yards per carry average.  He has run the ball more than 4 times in three games, against Oakland, Green Bay and New England.  The Jets are 1-2 in those starts, and played New England and Green Bay, two legitimate Super Bowl contenders, to the two closest losses of the season.  In five 2014 starts in which Geno ran the ball four times or less the Jets are 0-5, have been beaten by 14 or more points in three of the losses, and, perhaps not completely coincidentally, got shut out in the game in which Geno ran least, with one carry against San Diego.

In 16 starts last year Geno Smith ran the ball 72 times for 366 yards and a 5.1 yards per carry average.  Geno ran the ball more than 4 times in a game in seven games in 2013.  The Jets in those games went 6-1, including their only two wins against winning teams in 2013, the New Orleans and New England games.  In the nine games in 2013 in which Geno Smith ran the ball four times or less, the Jets went 2-7, including embarrassing losses by 20 points or more in each of the three games Geno ran the ball less than three times.

Here are the statistics for the Jets in terms of points scored and yards gained per game in Geno Smith's career, with splits broken down into games in which Geno ran more than four times and games he ran four times or less.  Also included are Geno's QB ratings broken down for the same game splits.




QB Rating


Geno more than 4 runs




Geno 4 or less runs




League Average




League Worst







QB Rating


Geno more than 4 runs




Geno 4 or less runs




League Average




League Worst




As you can see, across the board when Geno Smith runs the ball more than four times in a game both Geno and the Jets have been somewhere around an average NFL quarterback and offense. That average quarterback and offense has been good enough to give the Jets a combined 7-3 record in such games, a good enough record, if prorated over a full season, to be a legitimate playoff team. This isn't to say that if Geno just ran a ton the Jets would be on their way to the Super Bowl; that seems extremely unlikely.  Rather, it's just a way of showing that when Geno runs, the Jets look like a completely different and better team.

In contrast to the competent Jets quarterback and offense when Geno runs, when he doesn't run the charts show a starkly different picture.  When Geno Smith runs four or less times in a game he is by far the worst quarterback in the NFL and the Jets offense operates at or very close to a league worst level.  In those games the Jets are 2-12 and have never won a game by more than five points.  In the games Geno runs two or fewer times the Jets are 0-4 and have been embarrassed by 20 or more points in every game.

Given these numbers it is fair to ask why Geno has run more than four times only once in his last seven games?  A running Geno is no star quarterback, but he is good enough to give the Jets a fighting chance to win.  A pocket passer Geno is so bad the Jets are probably the worst team in the NFL when Geno doesn't run.  So why isn't Geno running?  Is he stubbornly determined to prove he can make it as a pure pocket passer?  Have the Jets coaches told him to rein in the running in an attempt to protect his health?  There's no way to know why this has happened, but there is good reason to believe it should not be happening going forward.  Even if Geno might someday develop into a decent pocket passer, that day is not now.  Right here, right now, Geno needs to run to succeed.  If the Jets want to win tonight and for the remainder of the 2014 season, they should give Geno Smith one simple instruction.  Run, Geno, run!