After a turnover filled Sunday afternoon in Nashville, Tennessee, outrage has begun in the Geno Smith era. Not your Josh Freeman-Greg Schiano type outrage, but rather your typical New York Jets outrage. The type that the team isn’t even aware of because it’s created by know-it-all media types and a schizophrenic fan base. “The Jets need a game manager”, “Start Matt Simms”, “Give Brady Quinn a shot”, “Pull Geno, he doesn’t have what it takes”, just to throw around a couple of intelligent quotes I stumbled upon yesterday. Are we really talking about creating a broadway carousel in New York?
I’m going to ruin this movie before it even begins: anyone clamoring for Geno Smith to be benched after a quarter of a season is clueless. They don’t have an idea of how this league works, how a quarterback is developed, and how vital it is for a front office to stand behind a high draft pick.
It’s true, Mark Sanchez was in line to start the season before his shoulder injury. Geno didn’t seem ready to be thrown into the fire, starting for a team with limited weapons, an unproven run game, and a middle of the pack offensive line. After Sanchez went down, the Jets had to choose a quarterback between their second round draft pick, a 6th year back up who has shown nothing, and a former UDFA that couldn’t even figure out college ball.
Let’s start with Brady Quinn, a guy in his sixth year in the NFL and not much to show for it. The same guy that threw two touchdowns and eight interceptions last year for the Chiefs in ten games played. Brady Quinn, the quarterback that couldn’t win the Cleveland Browns starting job when they were begging him to. Just because a quarterback is not talented does not make him a “game manager.” Game managers, much like Alex Smith, don’t turn the ball over and control the field. Is Brady Quinn that guy? A career completion percentage under 54 doesn’t exactly suggest that, neither does the 64.4 quarterback rating.
On to my favorite candidate, Matt Simms. The classic preseason all-pro, lighting up secondaries littered with players no longer in the league. First off, Simms did make major improvements this offseason. He’s always had the arm strength, but rarely proved himself as a reliable quarterback even dating back to college football. He lost his starting job at Tennessee from awful performance but the Jets gave him a tryout because of his raw skills. His improved play this season is what you hope to see from a project, but that’s exactly why Matt Simms has no business starting: He is a project. You don’t throw a project player into vital NFL games, the same player that has had no reps with the starting offense or any of the playmakers involved in it.
The game manager argument is a valid one, but the Jets do not have a game manager available to them. The Jets have a player in Geno Smith with all the talent in the world, a guy that was a proven winner in college football (even though West Virginia’s defense was putrid), who has had mixed performances through his first four professional games. For fans to clamor for his benching, well, welcome to New York kid. For the media to clamor for his benching, now that’s just ignorant. Rex Ryan and John Idzik chose the rookie, it is time to stand behind him through the ups and downs.