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Holly S#$% Cimini being positive.. Jets can be special if Geno Smith flourishes


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nfl_g_geno99_cr_576x324.jpgGrant Halverson/Getty ImagesGeno Smith expects "big things" from himself in 2014, and the Jets will need that to be successful.

Geno Smith heard Michael Vick's name more than a few times last season in the New York Jets' offensive meeting room. Occasionally, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg used Vick as an example when explaining to his quarterbacks how he wanted a particular play to be run. 

The name-dropping was understandable. After all, there was history between Mornhinweg and Vick. Smith soaked it up, taking copious notes as he navigated a winding rookie season. 

This season, the real Vick, not the ghost, will be sitting alongside Smith in the meeting room. That can be a good thing -- Smith can learn straight from the source -- or a bad thing if he becomes unnerved by Vick's presence. If Smith is bothered by the situation, he's not letting on. He sounds like a proven veteran, not a second-year quarterback who endured one of the worst statistical seasons in recent times. 

"I don't want to make any statements or put anything out there, but once the season comes, I mean, I expect big things," Smith told ESPN.com in a recent interview. "I believe fully in myself. I have the utmost confidence in myself. I know I have the ability to play in this league." 

There are doubters, to be sure, but Smith's conviction was steeled by his encouraging finish last season. His teammates and coaches saw it in the offseason, with the decisiveness he showed in the huddle in spring practices and the self-confidence he demonstrated in the locker room. That was one of the biggest takeaways from the offseason: the New Geno. 

It has to be a new Geno if the Jets hope to snap their three-year playoff drought. Right now, the Jets have eight-win talent, but that modest number jumps to double digits if Smith improves as much as they believe he can. 
 

[+] Enlargeny_u_smith-vick01jr_300x300.jpg
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsWill Michael Vick's presence be a good thing or a bad thing for Geno Smith?

"We're not playing yet -- we're not in the stadium yet, people aren't in the stands -- but Geno is a strongly improved player at this point," quarterbacks coach David Lee said. 

Thousands of words will be written and spoken this summer about Eric Deckerand Chris Johnson, the Jets' marquee additions, but 2014 is all about Smith, whom the Jets expect to be their season-opening starter. 

They say he's stronger and faster. As part of his offseason regimen, Smith trained with a speed parachute, proudly texting photos of himself to Lee. 

They say his footwork now comes naturally. A year ago, he was so unfamiliar with the Jets' offense that he counted steps in his head. 

They say his command of Mornhinweg's system has improved to the point where he's self-sufficient. As a rookie, Smith leaned heavily on center Nick Mangold, who did more hand-holding than a lovestruck teenager. 

"It's gotten away from me telling him exactly what to do," Mangold said. "Now it's more of a two-way discussion." 

They say Smith is more of a leader than last year. Let's be clear: He's not a fiery, in-your-face kind of quarterback, but there are indications that he wants to make it his team. 

In March, when he learned of the Decker signing on ESPN's Bottom Line, Smith immediately texted general manager John Idzik, asking for Decker's number. He reached out to his newest receiver, welcoming him to the team, discussing places to live in New Jersey and asking Decker about his favorite pass routes. 

Smith tried to do that with every newcomer, even draft picks, taking ownership in the team. A year ago, he kept to himself, trying to fit in. 

"I didn't want to come in as that guy who thinks he knows it all," Smith said. "I feel like I had to earn my stripes, and I feel like I've done that to a certain extent. 

"But I'm still learning, still growing. I still listen to the vets, but it's a different level of leadership from me. Last year, I was a vocal guy when I needed to be, but it wasn't as much as I'm going to show this year." 

Smith threw 21 interceptions, and that was a source of frustration for coaches and players alike, but they maintained their support because they respected his work ethic and mental toughness. No matter how bad it got, he refused to fold. 

"He went through everything a rookie quarterback could go through," guard Willie Colonsaid. "Now he's like, ‘All right, it's time for me to step up.' He's embracing the challenge. We all know Geno is feisty. He's strong-minded. He has the ability to fight. We believe in him." 
 

[+] Enlargenfl_u_gmith_cr_300x300.jpg
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsAs a rookie, Geno Smith passed for 3,046 yards with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

Former Jets quarterback Brady Quinn, a member of the team for the first half of the season, marveled at Smith's resilience. He pointed to the early-season win over the Atlanta Falcons, when Smith rallied the Jets in the final 2 minutes on a Monday night stage -- one week after an absolute stinker against the Tennessee Titans

"Every time Geno felt challenged, whether it was in the press or by anyone else, he usually responded and played a great game," Quinn said. "I think he had five come-from-behind wins. Those are powerful statements." 

Quinn came away impressed with Smith, who he believes has "a ton of arm talent." Unfortunately, there wasn't much talent around that arm, resulting in one of the worst offenses in the league. That should change with Johnson in the backfield and Decker on the perimeter. 

It's all there for Smith in Year 2, but there still are plenty of critics. In a recent ESPN.com poll of 25 personnel executives and coaches, he was rated the worst starting quarterback in the league. 

Do the Jets know something that no one else does? Maybe they do. Mornhinweg and Lee are widely respected offensive minds, so their opinions carry weight. Their jobs, along with that of Rex Ryan, could be riding on Smith. If he backslides or fails to show improvement, it'll be a costly setback for the organization. 

Smith's biggest challenge is reading defenses, according to people who have studied him on tape. He was a one-read quarterback at West Virginia, so it was a difficult transition to Mornhinweg's version of the West Coast offense, which is predicated on multiple reads and exact timing. 

There were long stretches last season in which Smith showed questionable instincts for the position, making poor decision after poor decision. The Jets expect that to get better with experience. 

The new variable for Smith is the Vick factor. This is a different ballgame for Smith, who didn't have to worry last season about losing his job. Even though Vick claims he will embrace the mentor role, he's a direct threat to Smith. One or two bad games, and the masses will be screaming for a change. 

You could certainly argue that Vick, 34, is better than Smith and deserves a fair shot at the starting job, but the powers-that-be have decided to stack the competition in Smith's favor, making it his job to lose. They won't hand it to him. He'll have to earn it, staving off a player he grew up admiring. It's a fascinating dynamic, especially with the Mornhinweg factor. Smith is battling his role model for a role. 

"I don't feel any pressure at all," Smith said. "Maybe, in the outside world, people might think that way. If I do hit a rough patch, I fully expect Mike to pick me up. If it was the other way around, I'd do the same for him because that's the way we are. We're friends and we're teammates." 

They're close. Soon, we'll find out if it's too close for comfort.

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Flourishing QBs tend to lead to special things. If Geno can merely be average, the Jets should be a playoff team. Maybe even a dangerous one.

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I am not sold on Geno but we need to give him the chance to either show he has it or does not

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I buy into Geno Smith, big time. I also do not get what was so historically bad about his season last year. I have my suspicions sports writers just like to dip into that "zomg how historic(!)" well  more than they should. 

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Flourishing QBs tend to lead to special things. If Geno can merely be average, the Jets should be a playoff team. Maybe even a dangerous one.

 

This is an interesting point--who is the worst QB in the league that if he was on roster last year, the Jets would've made the playoffs? I think with Kyle Orten we win 10 games last season.

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The petition must've scared him.

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This is an interesting point--who is the worst QB in the league that if he was on roster last year, the Jets would've made the playoffs? I think with Kyle Orten we win 10 games last season.

 

Not with the WRs (or lack thereof) we had last year

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Former Jets QB, Brady Quinn...

 

I couldn't have been the only one who completely forgot that that was a thing?

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Not with the WRs (or lack thereof) we had last year

 

We won 8 with Geno, we absolutely could've been a playoff team with a better QB. The question is just how much better would he have to be?

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What scares me is a slow start. If Jets open 0-2, Rex will be in full panic mode and the QB situation will be handled like a bull in a china shop. Geno Smith is being looked at as the starter which is how it should be. However with Vick in the mix Rex will

feel the pressure of winning and will ham handedly pull Geno.

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What scares me is a slow start. If Jets open 0-2, Rex will be in full panic mode and the QB situation will be handled like a bull in a china shop. Geno Smith is being looked at as the starter which is how it should be. However with Vick in the mix Rex will

feel the pressure of winning and will ham handedly pull Geno.

 

Besides obviously "nothing," what do you base this on?

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This is an interesting point--who is the worst QB in the league that if he was on roster last year, the Jets would've made the playoffs? I think with Kyle Orten we win 10 games last season.

 

If we're rolling with slats' assumption that "average" QB play would get us into the postseason, these are some of QB's in that range based on FootballOutsiders.com:

 

Jay Cutler (5.5 % DVOA)

Andy Dalton (2.3 %)

Ryan Fitzpatrick (- 3.6 %)

Alex Smith (- 3.7 %)

Mike Glennon (-7.7 %)

 

I'd say the names above Glennon would have gotten us into the postseason last year, even if you factor in that Dalton would not have had an AJ Green here and Cutler wouldn't have a Marshall/Jeffrey/Forte trio. 

 

Alex Smith would have been the ideal choice on this team due to his anti-Sanchez propensity to protect the ball above all other things.  He also performed well last year despite having almost no relationship with his WR1, Dwayne Bowe.  Granted, he also had the NFL's top-producing RB in Jamaal Charles and a terrific offensive line.

 

Kyle Orton did well last year but, again, did so with terrific weapons, and in a small sample size at that.  I like him as a backup.  As a starter he's in that "Glennon line" territory.

 

We'll see if Geno can exceed the "Glennon line" in '14.

Edited by Jetsfan80
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"We're not playing yet -- we're not in the stadium yet, people aren't in the stands -- but Geno is a strongly improved player at this point," quarterbacks coach David Lee said.

 

This is very heartening to hear. I never heard anyone say that about Mark Sanchez. All we ever heard is how hard he worked and he knew the playbook backwards.

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This is very heartening to hear. I never heard anyone say that about Mark Sanchez. All we ever heard is how hard he worked and he knew the playbook backwards.

 

Sanchez knew the playbook backwards?  No wonder he turned it over so many times. 

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Right now, the Jets have eight-win talent

"Eight" is an awfully funny way of spelling "three."

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Sanchez knew the playbook backwards?  No wonder he turned it over so many times. 

 

Upside down too.

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We won 8 with Geno, we absolutely could've been a playoff team with a better QB. The question is just how much better would he have to be?

 

We could have been, yes. We also may have had no better of a record. As bad as Smith was at times, and as bad as his passing totals ended up being, he did have games where he was an asset (including with his feet). Perhaps more of an asset than even the great Kyle Orton might have been in some games. 

 

I think it's convenient to say that each of those 8 wins can automatically be credited to someone else and then you start counting the additional ones that wouldn't have been losses. For all we know, with an Orton type we may have lost to Tampa, Atlanta, NE game #2, or even the Oakland or Cleveland games.

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I think 'special' qbs are smart in ways I can't really articulate.  The smart ones seem to have faster reads of defenses, and we don't hear that they failed to go thru their checkdowns during pass plays.

 

The year Sanchez could have shown he was developing this intuition, he was drawing moustaches on pictures in the locker room.  Hopefully Geno has it, and we get to see it this season.

Edited by JerryK
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Former Jets QB, Brady Quinn...

 

I couldn't have been the only one who completely forgot that that was a thing?

Nope.  I had to actually read it twice before it sunk in. 

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We won 8 with Geno, we absolutely could've been a playoff team with a better QB. The question is just how much better would he have to be?

 

Who was this magical QB going to throw the ball to?

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Who was this magical QB going to throw the ball to?

 

peyton manning turned austin collie into a decent player. if 2013 jets had manning, playoffs for sure. not sure many would disagree. the point of disagreement is how much worse than manning would a qb have to be and still get us to 10 wins? my opinion is kyle orton, but the answer could be someone between orton and manning, i don't know. it's just an offseason thought exercise, really.

Edited by jgb
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peyton manning turned austin collie into a decent player. if 2013 jets had manning, playoffs for sure. not sure many would disagree. the point of disagreement is how much worse than manning would a qb have to be and still get us to 10 wins? my opinion is kyle orton, but the answer could be someone between orton and manning, i don't know. it's just an offseason thought exercise, really.

 

I already answered that question.  So now we can move on with our lives.

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peyton manning turned austin collie into a decent player. if 2013 jets had manning, playoffs for sure. not sure many would disagree. the point of disagreement is how much worse than manning would a qb have to be and still get us to 10 wins? my opinion is kyle orton, but the answer could be someone between orton and manning, i don't know. it's just an offseason thought exercise, really.

 

 

Peyton Manning lost a Superbowl in 2013 with the talent loaded Dencer Broncos. Nothing is automatic. No QB was going to make a difference last year for the Jets.  Maybe Peyton or Brady get us a one and done in the playoffs.  We could have  added that to the trophy case of lost dreams right next to the two AFC championship lost trophies. 

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He doesn't even have to flourish, I'll take 20 TDs and 10 INTs. He does that and we'll be alright

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Peyton Manning lost a Superbowl in 2013 with the talent loaded Denver Broncos. Nothing is automatic.

 

They only were seen as loaded BECAUSE of Peyton.  Demaryius is very good.  However, Knowshon Moreno is a JAG.  Julius Thomas has similar measurables/speed as Jeff Cumberland.  Wes Welker hasn't played with anything BUT HOF QB's in his career.  Decker suddenly went from a nice WR2 with Orton to a bonafide WR1 with Peyton. 

 

That's good surrounding talent, but far from "loaded". 

Edited by Jetsfan80
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