“Well, I want to come in with the right mentality, I want to come in and work and I’m going to make sure I put my best foot forward. I’m going to be dedicated and try and come in and be a leader, try and help my team get better and win games.”- New York Jets Quarterback Geno Smith after the Jets drafted him in the second round.
I think it’s safe to say that Geno’s rookie season was filled with highs and lows. I do believe he showed enough in 2013 to warrant being part of the New York Jets QB situation heading into the 2014 season. Let’s do a quick review of Geno’s rookie year, broken into quarters.
Opponents: Vs Tampa Bay (W), at New England (L), Vs Buffalo (W), at Tennessee (L)
First Quarter Overall Statistics:
78-136, 57% completion percentage, 1,090 yards, 4 TDs, 8 INTs, 69.3 QBR, 16 carries, 85 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, 1 TD, 3 fumbles, 11 total turnovers, 14 Sacks (1 every 9.7 drop backs)
Analysis: Geno completed 59% of his passes, 3 TDs, and 3 INTs at home, in comparison to a 55% completion percentage, 1 TD, and 5 INTs on the road. Geno’s best statistical game of the first quarter (Week 3 vs Buffalo) coincided with the Jets first 100 yard rushing game of the season (Bilal Powell’s season high 149 yards), as well as the only game of the first quarter that Geno wasn’t sacked. Geno only averaged 4 carries a game through the first quarter, despite a 5.3 yards per carry average.
Opponents: @ Atlanta (W), Vs Pittsburgh (L), Vs New England (W), @ Cincinatti (L)
Second Quarter Overall Statistics:
72-117, 61% completion percentage, 792 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs, 80.07 QBR, 14 carries, 69 yards, 4.9 yards per carry, 1 TD, 3 fumbles, 4 total turnovers, 16 Sacks (1 sack every 7.3 drop backs).
Analysis: Geno’s completion percentage went up but his yardage went down, a clear sign that Geno reduced the amount of deep throws he attempted. His interceptions were cut in half, evidence that he was making better decisions after the first four games. Geno’s turnovers decreased from 11 to 4, which was another sign that Geno was being much more careful with the football. The best game for Geno in the second quarter was against Atlanta, on the road on Monday Night Football against a (at the time) Super Bowl contender. The Jets also cut his pass attempts by 19 and began running the ball more as Chris Ivory became healthy and Mike Goodson returned, albeit for only two games.
Opponents: vs New Orleans (W), @ Buffalo (L), @ Baltimore (L), vs Miami (L)
Third Quarter Overall Statistics
29-74, 39% completion percentage, 374 yards, 0 TDs, 6 INTs, 25.7 QBR, 11 carries, 26 yards, 2.3 yards per carry, 1 TD, 2 fumbles, 7 total turnovers, 10 sacks (one every 7.4 drop backs)
Analysis: The worst part of Geno Smith’s season, and the stretch that ended the New York Jets playoff hopes, happened in the third quarter. The Jets were 4-4 and Geno clearly improved from the first quarter to the second. However, his pass attempts dropped from an average of 29 per game in the second quarter to 18 per game in the third as Geno became much more of a game manager. This actually seems to have started after the first quarter, probably because of all of the turnovers, because Geno’s pass attempts averaged in the first quarter were 34 a game. Geno was benched against Miami, but that was just the low point of this quarter that began against Buffalo. After the bye, Geno only completed 8 passes, was intercepted 3 times, and was sacked 4 times against the Bills. That began a horrible stretch of play by the Jets quarterback. The Jets ran for 100+ yards in 3 out of these four games, which makes Geno’s struggles even more puzzling since he performed well during the first two quarters when the Jets ran for 100+. Geno’s decline in play directly correlates to the loss of Jeremy Kerley, the Jets best WR the last two seasons.
Opponents: Vs Oakland (W), @ Carolina (L), vs Cleveland (W), @ Miami (W)
Fourth Quarter Overall Statistics
68-116, 58% completion percentage, 790 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 83.2 QBR, 31 carries, 217 yards, 7 yards per carry, 3 TDs, 0 fumbles, 2 total turnovers, 5 sacks (1 sack every 23.2 drop backs)
Analysis: Geno followed up the worst part of his season with arguably the best part of his season. Geno was careful with the ball, made sure to not make many mistakes, and the Jets offensive line (much maligned for the entire season) made sure he was only sacked once every 23 drop backs. Geno also, used his legs more as his 31 carries were more than what he had in any of the other three quarters. His 3 rushing TDs were equal to what he had during the first 12 games. His improved play directly correlated with the return of Jeremy Kerley, as well as 3 of Chris Ivory’s better games this season. Geno didn’t take as many shots downfield during the 4th quarter, but that could be because the Jets didn’t have anyone that could stretch the field. That’s something John Idzik will have to address.
If you take Geno’s best quarter and project it over an entire season, this is what you get:
272-464, 58% completion, 3,160 yards, 11.6 yards per completion, 16 TDs, 8 INTs, 124 carries, 868 yards, 7.0 yards per carry, 12 rushing TDs, 4028 total yards, 28 Total TDs, 8 total turnovers, 20 sacks
This is a baseline for Geno, based off of how he played during the last quarter of the season. If the New York Jets can upgrade the skill positions around him (namely at WR and TE), Geno can surpass these statistics. The key, based off this analysis, is Jeremy Kerley and Chris Ivory. Kerley’s fractured elbow, and him missing 3 games, led to Geno’s declining play. A healthy Jeremy Kerley, with improved weapons on the outside, will help Geno. Chris Ivory is the reason you put eight in the box against the Jets. If he turns his best games into an entire year, given he’s healthy, then it allows for Geno to find his improved weapons on the outside. Feel good about Geno Jets fans. We may have ourselves a QB.