New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith is learning Marty Morhinweg’s West Coast system on the fly and has shown steadily improvement during his first few training camp practices.
With an added emphasis on his footwork and proper technique from the Jets’ coaching staff, the first year pro is making great strides, but realizes he still has a long way to go.
“The main thing is that I went through my reads properly, my drops were good at the proper depth,” noted Smith. “And then I was hitting receivers in stride, placing the ball where I wanted it and that’s a really good sign for day one but there’s still a lot to improve on.”
Mornhinweg and quarterback’s coach David Lee have been working alongside both Mark Sanchez and Smith to help acclimate each signal-caller to their new offensive scheme which is predicated on precision passing, crisp route running and sound timing. Famed as an offensive mastermind during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, Mornhinweg doesn’t let any detail slip through the cracks.
“He’s a really good OC and he always talks to us and he lets us know how he feels on the field, off the field, wherever,” noted Smith.” I really enjoy that and I appreciate that.”
Smith has been tested early on, matching up with Rex Ryan’s fast and physical defense which has developed a reputation for confusing young quarterbacks over the past few years. One player in particular, cornerback Antonio Cromartie has been giving Smith fits as he tries to exploit Gang Green’s secondary in practice.
“He has a swagger about himself,” Smith said of Cromartie. “He’s an All-Pro corner, one of the most athletic guys I’ve ever seen on the field and it’s good to have a guy like that on your side because it only makes you better.”
Smith will have only a short timetable to prove he is deserving of the starting job, and in the meantime he’s relishing his opportunity to compete against one of the league’s most dynamic defenses.
“Those guys are not only fast from a physical standpoint but they really react,” said Smith. “Some of the best I’ve ever seen. This is my first time at it but just from my knowledge, the Jets have always had a really good defense.”
Under Ryan, the Jets have maintained mediocre offenses and with a rash of injuries at wide receiver and very few proven playmakers on the roster, the jury is still out on whether Smith or Sanchez can help turn the tide in 2013. While Sanchez has the slight edge in the race to start under center, Smith didn't hesitate to show his appreciation for the veteran’s willingness to teach him throughout camp.
“It speaks volumes about his character,” said Smith of Sanchez. “Like I said, Mark’s a great guy. He’s always helping me. He’s always willing to help me. From my knowledge he’s always helped everyone, including Greg McElroy, including Matt Simms.”
As both quarterbacks battled head-on to command the Jets' huddle this upcoming season, there seems to be more cooperation than conflict in the team’s quarterback room.
"I appreciate Mark for what he does for me on and off the field," said Smith. "He helps me, he teaches me, he helps me get acclimated to the pro game and we have a really good relationship."
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland