Can the Jets fix Geno Smith’s struggles at quarterback?

Geno Smith
Geno Smith has struggled with his mechanics, according to QB guru Steve Clarkson.
Credit: Getty Images

With four games left in their season, the 5-7 Jets have no room for error. A loss and they are out of the playoff picture. There’s a lot of pressure on rookie quarterback Geno Smith to fix his recent slide and resurrect an offense that has scored a combined six points in the past two games.

The numbers are well known for Smith, who hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since an Oct. 20 overtime win over the Patriots. He has struggled to move the chains, with the Jets ranked No. 30 in total offense. Statistically, they are the worst passing offense in the league.

Steve Clarkson, the legendary quarterback coach who has mentored the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Jack Locker and E.J. Manuel, the top quarterback picked in this past April’s NFL Draft, sees a number of flaws in Smith’s game. After watching Smith play this year and examining him on film, Clarkson walked away with a prescription for what ails the Jets rookie.

“Mechanics, there’s a number of things that need fixing. His footwork is what you’d expect from someone who spent a lot of time in the shotgun formation [in college],” Clarkson told Metro. “He tends to have his feet duck-footed or kind of planted outward. It doesn’t let him rip his hips through throws. What that ultimately does is have his throws go high and wide, especially under duress, which happens a lot in New York.”

Another major issue Clarkson sees is his actual grip on the ball. It isn’t as much that Smith has smaller than normal hands for a quarterback, though he does, it is his hand placement on the ball and the ensuing angle of his shoulders and elbows.

Instead of having his elbow tight and in an “L” motion, Clarkson sees Smith’s elbow “fanning out” with bad body alignment, including his head being in almost a vertical position. This keeps him from being able to step into passes.

“When he separates his left hand from the ball as he starts to rotate through,” Clarkson said. “You will actually see the point of the football going in the opposite direction of where it should be going.”

There’s also the pass rush, which Clarkson said could be causing Smith to watch the pocket collapse rather than his wide receivers break open. The Jets face a Raiders team this Sunday known for bringing multiple bodies and trying to collapse the pocket. They already have 31 sacks in 12 games, coming off last year when they had just 25 sacks.

Linebacker Nick Roach (5 1/2 sacks) and Lamarr Houston (five sacks) pace the Raiders defense.

This past Sunday, with the Jets down just 6-0 at halftime to the Dolphins, Smith was pulled from the game in favor of backup quarterback Matt Simms. It was the third time this season and the second time in the past three games Smith was benched. But it was the first time Smith was taken out of a winnable game.

But head coach Rex Ryan praised Smith’s performances in practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

Smith doesn’t think he’s hit the mental wall all too common for rookies.

“I don’t see it. I don’t think so. As of late, I’ve been staying in the building later, trying to correct things,” Smith said. “I haven’t hit any wall of any sort and hopefully I don’t. I just want to continue to play football and I want to continue to progress and get better and just try to contribute to this team in any way I can.”

Turnovers have been a major issue for Smith, almost from the beginning of the season. He has thrown a league-high 19 interceptions, committed seven fumbles and has a league-low quarterback rating of 60.4.

Mechanics – or a lack thereof – are a major issue Clarkson said.

“His overcompensation for bad footwork, essentially not being able to step into throws [is a problem],” Clarkson said. “Then the anticipation and his accuracy, a lot of that is, does he have knowledge what he’s doing? If you don’t know what you’re doing, organically your mechanics will be flawed.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.


PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.