So the Geno Smith era got off an outstanding start for the New York Jets and their fans on Sunday. Smith handled the pressure with more poise and confidence than veteran Mark Sanchez displayed over the past two seasons. Every single time he received a snap from center Nick Mangold and found himself in a situation where no receiving target was open, Smith was able to either throw the ball away, take a sack or took it himself to get the first down.
“We had enough time there where I could scramble, get out of bounds, (and) at least get past mid field,” said Smith of the his run in the closing seconds. “Give us a chance to get a field goal off. It was bad on their part, on that guy’s part to cause that penalty, but it was good for us. (It) gave us some extra room and Nick Folk came up big as he always does.”
You could see from the first snap of the game that Smith didn’t put any added pressure on himself unlike the preseason games against the Detroit Lions and New York Giants when he felt he was trying so hard to win the starting job.
But when Smith was able to make plays, the confidence kept oozing out of him and he made his throws with conviction. The first throw of the game to Jeremy Kerley for 26 yards was a perfect start to the game for Smith and it continued on with a touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow near the end of the first half.
“Yeah, we improvised on that one,” admitted the rookie of his touchdown connection with Winslow. “Kellen, he always tells me, “If you’re ever scrambling, if you’re every breaking the pocket, just find me. I’ll find you and get open.” And he did that on that play.”
After completing 24 of 38 passes for 256 yards, the rookie tossed an ill-advised interception at Lavonte David in the second quarter for his biggest miscue of the game. You can definitely say that Smith is officially ready for the NFL, but he will have a major hurdle to climb against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Thursday night.
“It’s not about me,” said Smith following the game. “It’s about my teammates and this organization. So, it’s good to get a win for the Jets. But, we’ve got to put this one behind us and get prepared for a tough game coming up on Thursday night.”
But if we are curious about Geno Smith’s first ever NFL game, we need to know how it compares with the NCAA.
“It felt fairly similar,” said Smith of his regular season debut. “Like I said, preseason games, regular season games, everyone’s out there competing. Everyone’s fighting. So, it felt pretty good.”
Before the game it was reported that Sanchez officially suffered a partial torn labrum on the hit he took in the third preseason game against the Giants. That means Jets’ fans will see Smith for a good while and possibly the entire season if he plays well.
While this could be a season lost for Sanchez, it’s becoming clear that the Smith era has started with a positive vibe as he led the Jets to an improbably win against a gritty Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.
“I just go out there and told those guys it’s never over,” said Smith. “I was on the sideline, talking with Kellen and wewe’re going over situations. What if this happens, if we had this much time, if they played this coverage. (I) talked with Willie Colon and told those guys hey, just give me some extra protection and we’ll find a way. And that’s what we did.”
Make no mistake about it, right now, it’s Geno time in the Big Apple.