Geno Smith’s struggles reminiscent of Mark Sanchez’s rookie season

Geno Smith benched
Geno Smith was benched at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Bills.
Credit: Getty Images

The Jets have been here before — and not long ago.

They have a rookie quarterback and a team mired in mediocrity in the middle of the season, not unlike four seasons ago. But back in 2009, the Jets ended up rebounding by season’s end. The formula might not be quite so simple for the Jets this season, who must rebound after Sunday’s 37-14 loss at the Bills and another disastrous showing from their rookie quarterback.

Through 10 games, Geno Smith is near the bottom of most NFL passer ratings. He is looking every bit the part of a quarterback who dropped to the middle of the second round of this past April’s NFL Draft based off serious question marks on accuracy and his ability to read defenses. Smith was just 8-of-23 for 103 yards with three interceptions against the Bills.

Smith emerged on shaky ground Monday, but will remain the starting quarterback, according to head coach Rex Ryan.

“[I] didn’t play well — had positives, had negatives. More negatives than positives, but just didn’t play well,” Smith said on Monday after reviewing the game film from the Bills.

Ball security is a major issue now for the Jets, especially with Smith’s 20 turnovers this year. He has four fumbles lost in addition to 16 interceptions.

Smith has had multiple interceptions in a game six times this season. The Jets are 1-5 in those games.

Veteran quarterback David Garrard, brought in to mentor Smith, is impressed with the rookie’s resilience and said “he continues to come in humble.” A meek spirit isn’t enough to keep the Jets in postseason contention.

On Monday, backup quarterback Matt Simms said he’s still the No. 2 quarterback behind Smith, but with the Jets 5-5, they need to balance the development of their raw quarterback against some serious postseason ambitions.

“I haven’t seen a timer on that so I don’t have any concerns,” Smith said. “I’m going about it day by day as I’ve always done and just working hard and trying to progress and get better better day by day.”

This scenario is lining up eerily like the 2009 season with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez under center. Sanchez was annointed as the Week 1 starter and Ryan never yanked Sanchez over his lackluster performances, instead riding the rookie through a rough start to the season. The Jets would make the playoffs and a run to the AFC Championship game.

The Jets are hoping lightning strikes twice.

Ryan showed patience then and appears to be doing the same thing with Smith, who perhaps isn’t as polished as Sanchez when he was a rookie. He’s not talking about a quarterback controversy, even as Simms entered the game in the fourth quarter on Sunday and led the offense to a touchdown on his first drive.

“I don’t, honestly, that’s up to the coaches,” Smith said. “I go out there and perform the best that I can and I leave that in the hands of the coaches.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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