It's anyone's guess week to week which New York Jets team will show up. Will it be the one led by a rising rookie quarterback and dominant defense or the turnover prone, wildly erratic squad fans saw during Sunday's 49-9 waxing by the Cincinnati Bengals? The Jets have made their bed with Geno Smith and they're going to have to lie in it. While the young signal-caller has shown flashes of brilliance, he is turning the ball over at an alarming rate; tossing two more interceptions returned for touchdowns at Paul Brown Stadium in Week 8.
Gang Green has yet to win back-to-back games and hasn't done so since Weeks 14 and 15 of last year. Pegged by experts as the NFL's "glorified expansion team", the Jets have exceeded most fans expectations, but they've yet to develop any semblance of consistency, which is preventing many from considering them serious playoff contenders. Rex Ryan's defense was exposed against the Bengals, particularly the secondary as Andy Dalton and company victimized cornerbacks Darrin Walls and rookie Dee Milliner, while All-Pro Antonio Cromartie had his hands full with star wideout A.J. Green.
There's no question that Ryan's players are playing hard for him and are highly motivated to prove the naysayers wrong, but are they playing smart?
Good teams don't beat themselves and it seems at times this year that the Jets are their own worst enemy. Gang Green has seen what turnovers have done to the OTHER New York football team as a two-time Super Bowl MVP can look quite pedestrian behind a shaky offensive line and hindered by questionable decision-making. If the Jets want to take that next step and ascend from the middle of the pack to the playoff hunt, Smith is going to need to be part of the solution, not the problem. The Jets are putting a lot on the shoulders of their rookie quarterback and so far the results have been mixed with a few highs and several lows.
So far the former West Virginia star has showcased a powerful arm, the ability to perform in the clutch and uncanny knack for making defenders miss in the open field, but can Smith curb his habit for costly mistakes? Can he stop trying to make the spectacular play and instead live to play another down? Until New York's No. 7 finds an answers to his turnover woes, the Jets will be exactly what they've been through the first eight weeks of the year, a Jekyll and Hyde football team.
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
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