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Point/Counterpoint: Is Geno Smith Progressing?

Writers Rich MacLeod and Scott Salmon debate a topic on many Jets fans minds.

Al Bello

Every week this season Rich MacLeod and another Gang Green Nation writer will go head-to-head on a hot topic regarding the New York Jets. It's up to you to decide who's right.


By: Scott Salmon

Geno’s sack percentage is down. His adjusted yards per passing attempt are up, and he’s doing that while throwing the ball more often per game than last season. On the whole, Smith is a very accurate passer, as indicated by his 60+ completion percentage. His problem comes down to one or two plays a game where, generally speaking, he’s trying to make a play. That’s something fans are going to have to get used to. Smith isn’t a game manager. He’s a boom-or-bust quarterback. He’s gonna make a big play, or he’s gonna go down trying. Unfortunately, he isn’t getting much help out there, especially with Eric Decker out. This is similar to his problems in the middle of his senior year of college, where the defense was giving up 50+ points per game and he had to make a play every time he was out there. Smith needs to cut down on his mistakes, there’s no doubt about that. But he only has to cut out one or two mistakes a game, and this is easily a playoff team. Once he gets more help and as he continues to get more comfortable, I have faith that he’ll get there.

When we ask, "Is Geno Smith a franchise quarterback?," it helps to know what that means. I don’t. Does it mean one of the top three quarterbacks in football? If so, then he probably will never be that, along with the 28 other starting quarterbacks in the league. The fact is, plenty of good quarterbacks have hiccups. Jay Cutler had a 26 interception season when he was 26 years old. At that same age, Andy Dalton had 20 interceptions. Eli Manning has had multiple 20+ interception seasons, and he’s won two Super Bowls. Unless you’re Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, becoming a good quarterback usually doesn’t come quickly.

Last year, when Smith went down, he went down in epic fashion. I’m talking multi-interception games that single-handedly killed the team. That hasn’t happened this year, in an admittedly small sample size. Smith has made mistakes, to be sure, but I think it’s wildly unfair to pin these losses on him. In almost every measurable way, he’s improving. We’re the ones who are just too impatient.


By: Rich MacLeod

Not quite, at least. While, yes, his accuracy for the most part has been an improvement and he's not fully experiencing the doldrum outings we were all introduced at times last season, the one thing that plagued Geno Smith his rookie continues to be his kryptonite to this day—turnovers. And backbreaking, can't-do-it-type turnovers at that.

In three games this season, Geno Smith has committed five turnovers (four interceptions, one lost fumble). Of those five turnovers, two have been committed in the red zone, another on a semi-deep ball thrown into the red zone and recently one has been returned for a touchdown. Since the start of the 2013-2014 season, the Jets quarterback leads the NFL in picks returned for touchdowns with six.

Smith has committed at least one turnover in eight of his last 10 games dating back to last season, and in 15 of his 19 career games. In eight of those 19 starts, Geno has had multiple turnovers, tied with Eli Manning for the most in the NFL during that span.

In addition to many dark moments last year, there were some bright moments for Geno Smith, namely his five 4th quarter/OT game-winning drives. However in the 4th quarter in three games this season, Smith's quarterback rating (QBR) is all the way down at 4.7.

Is it "start Michael Vick" time? Is it "give up on Geno Smith" time? No, and no. Not yet. While the statistics aren't exactly pretty, we do have to remember that he's had 19 career games, a very small sample size. Now is not time to throw Geno into a trivia answer of failed New York Jets quarterbacks, but facts are facts, and the turnovers continue to plague his young career. Progression? Some, but not enough. Not quite. Not yet.