Geno Smith’s audition as starter has lasted for an entire season. Through it, Jet fans have been treated to the good, the bad and the ugly. Rex Ryan has now been the Jets head coach for five seasons. He’s brought the Jets to the brink of the Super Bowl twice but has also stunted the teams growth due to a ‘defense heavy’ mentality exemplified over three playoff-less seasons. Both Smith and Ryan have built cases for themselves that stretch in two opposing directions.
With two games left to go in 2013, Smith has nothing left to provide Jets brass on the field that hasn’t already been shown. Smith has made some clutch plays late in games (Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Buffalo at home), used his legs to escape trouble (Patriots win at home, Saints, Oakland) and at times has shown poise after early in-game mistakes. Smith has also bottomed out at times in games at Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Baltimore. The pick sixes (6) have begun to add up at an alarming rate too. Making doubters wonder if the tunnel vision that has plagued him during the struggles will ever truly go away for good.
Smith was handed the reigns after the Mark Sanchez injury drama under the notion that he was perhaps another young gun in the new age model of quarterbacking. More Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick than say the pure drop back type. The kind of player who could rear back and sling it, but also make plays outside of the pocket and in the run option as well. A guy who would be harder to gameplan for.
Now fourteen games in, Smith does not appear to have the type of explosion when he takes off that a Wilson or Kaepernick has. His ability (or lack thereof) to read defenses from inside the pocket have become more of what Gang Green diehards are studying when they watch and wonder if he is the future.
With protection, Smith has provided big throws as well as senseless gaffes. In the end GM John Idzik must assess what percentage of the mistakes have stemmed solely from being a rookie and learning on the job. In defense of Smith, he has arguably suffered from a lack of weapons outside and that’s when the receivers and tight ends are all healthy. Which they haven’t been for some time now. The Jets have lacked a stretch the field type of wideout since Santonio Holmes first arrived in 2010.
However, ask a Jet fan on twitter and opinions on Smith are split. One will say that Smith has shown enough positive signs to build around him during free agency and the 2014 draft. Ask another fan, and they will tweet that the club must draft a QB again. A Teddy Bridgewater or a Johhny Manziel. Someone in this QB rich draft who can become the teams real future leader.
As for Ryan, he took his first Jet clubs to the Super Bowls doorstep twice. His once brash, confident quotable style rubbed off on a talented defense and safe yet effective ground and pound offense. As the original Ryan blueprint cemented though, we all began to witness a coach who although the heart, passion and belief in his guys was there, overestimated what he had in his own backfield and receiving corps.
Ryan overshot the ceiling for Mark Sanchez in 2011 and had to dial back the unleashing of what he thought would be the next top tier QB added to the NFL’s list. He overvalued the idea of Shonn Greene as a feature back in 2011 and 2012. After the departure of hammering back Thomas Jones. He called his 2012 squad featuring players like Chaz Schillens and raw rookie Stephen Hill at WR “the most talented team he’s had.”
Ryan has always been able to motivate players and rally his team against more superior opponents. His inability though, to address his undermanned offensive roster as he drafted more studs on defense over the past three years, and settle in on one scheme offensively (three OC’s in five years) has become an albatross for a franchise that can compete with anyone, but fails to score enough to win consistently.
Ryan has presided over a team for a half decade now that has never had a backup quarterback with experience capable of subbing in for young starters Mark Sanchez and Smith, in order to stop any in-season slides. Allowing the Jets a different option at piloting the ship.
Mark Brunell was too old. Tim Tebow was a sideshow, and David Garrard was injured. How much of that was Ryan’s doing is unknown, but if the ax falls on him in two weeks, a major reason for the firing will be the Jets problems at QB under him. A situation that maybe Ryan could have prevented had he demanded or seen the need for a more solid option behind the starter.
Smith and Ryan have both said that they are the ‘right guys.’ Smith being the best the Jets can do at QB 1, even after Matt Simms replaced him in the he’s second half weeks back. Ryan noting that he should be the one to lead the Jets going forward. Idzik will have to show an instinct of his own in weighing both sides when it comes to these two.
The facts that build the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ columns for Smith and Ryan are somewhat evenly distributed. The outcomes from Idzik’s findings will set the course for years to come. Any attempt by Idzik to over sell the fan base that either of the two must stay or go due to clear some cut proof why won’t be so easy to achieve. The final calls on Geno and Rex can clearly be calculated and seen in two different ways. Idzik needs to forget about winning any fans over, and just decide upon the correct way in both cases. Then, he has to be right. Otherwise the mediocrity in Florham Park will continue to drag on .