This week in the Turn On The Jets film room, we look at the reasons behind Geno Smith’s interceptions and his arm strength.
Geno Smith took a step back in his second NFL start after an encouraging debut. He wasn’t helped by his wide receivers and or his offensive coordinator but that doesn’t justify his three fourth quarter interceptions. The New York Jets had a real chance to steal this game in New England and Smith’s turnovers were the type of mistakes he must work avoiding moving forward. Let’s look at each of the interceptions -
New England – 13 New York – 10, 3rd and 4, Jets at New England’s 27, 11:48 to go
The Jets had effectively seized momentum from the Patriots at this point, as they were driving to take the lead in the fourth quarter and were already well in Nick Folk’s field goal range. Smith needs to know in this situation that his team is down 3 and in position to tie it up, in a game where his defense has been borderline dominant and points have been at a premium.
The Jets come out in a shotgun, single back set and send Santonio Holmes in motion across the formation, effectively forming a tight bunch with Stephen Hill and Kellen Winslow who releases from his three-point stance. Clyde Gates is left as the single receiver backside.
Winslow releases up the hash but is bumped by the Patriots linebacker off his mark, Stephen Hill is running a 5 yard in-cut and slams directly into Winslow, knocking him over. Geno’s first look when he drops back is towards the Winslow/Hill route combo which is unfortunately a car crash now.
He then looks backside to Gates, who releases too far inside on his skinny post and is easily funneled directly to the safety sitting over the top.
Geno rolls out to the open space in his left and maintains his focus on Gates, who he anticipates operating the scramble drill, meaning he will break off his route and head to the corner of the end-zone. Gates does this but slips on his break and falls down.
At this point, the safe and smart thing to do considering the situation would have been to throw the football away. The play is clearly snakebitten with Winslow, Hill and Gates all literally knocked off their routes. Geno could throw it away and take the 3 points. However, he notices Santonio Holmes coming open across the formation.
To be fair, Holmes is open here. This isn’t necessarily a bad decision by Geno to throw the football. If he leads him, Holmes picks up the first down and maybe more. However, with the defender in his face and likely a wet football, Geno throws the ball behind Holmes leading to a tip and an interception.
Situational football. Smith will learn that in this type of game, when his first read goes down and his second read goes down twice….just throw the ball out of bounds and take the tie game. It is also fair to question if Marty Mornhinweg should have just ran the football here, considering how effective Chris Ivory had been and how it would have nearly guaranteed the Jets a tie game.
New England – 13 New York – 10, 3rd and 4, Jets at their own 46, 4:53 to go
The Jets are in the shotgun and throwing again on 3rd and 4. Smith has two backs, Santonio Holmes in the slot and Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates on the outside.
Both Gates and Hill are running skinny posts and Holmes is running a deep in-cut. The two running backs release and cross on their check-downs. It is likely that the primary read on this play was Holmes to the running backs. However, Geno sees Gates beat his man to the inside and lets if fly.
Unfortunately, Smith under-throws the pass. He needs to throw it out in front of Gates and let him run under it but Smith hangs it up and allows the corner to break on the football. This is the right read but without a question a poor throw. However, Geno gets zero help from Gates who makes no effort to come back to the football, attack the ball in the air or break up the interception.
Once Gates sees how far the ball is under-thrown, he needs to do everything in his power to break up the interception or come back and make a play on the ball himself. Instead, he does nothing. Literally nothing. He just sits back and lets Dennard intercept the pass, without even a swipe at the ball as he tumbles to the ground. A veteran quarterback, despite the poor pass, would tear into his receiver for this type of lazy effort.
New England – 13 New York – 10, 2nd and 10, Jets on their own 29, 48 seconds to go
Same formation as the previous interception, with two backs, Holmes in the slot and Hill/Gates on the outside.
Hill and Gates release on go routes on the outside. Holmes is running a post over the middle. Geno sees the corner on top of Hill and decides to attempt a back shoulder throw. This was a poor decision and very poor throw by Geno.
It seems that he predetermined he was going to Hill before the snap. If he had waited a second longer, Holmes is breaking open over the middle of the field. Smith wasn’t being pressured. There was no need to rush, as the expedited and poorly executed back shoulder throw never allows him a chance to connect with Holmes for what would have been a big play.
So we aren’t only talking negatives today. We’ll leave you with the most impressive play of Smith’s brief NFL career. In the first half, he is drilled in the face while releasing the football at the 14 yard line (roughing the passer was called).
Despite that, Smith lasers in a picture perfect throw to Santonio Holmes 31 yards down the field on a deep out route. This is a big boy NFL throw and shows just how much arm strength Smith has.