The Jets made use of a short passing game the final few games to the benefit of Geno Smith. Credit: Getty Images
The Jets may have simplified the playbook for rookie quarterback Geno Smith the past month, but the results have been more than encouraging during that stretch.
In the last four games, the Jets are 3-1 with a mostly error-free Smith under center. The game plans haven't been complex, with first reads being a majority of underneath routes and out patterns, but the strategy has worked. He completed 58 percent of passes and had four touchdowns with two interceptions in December. In the previous five games, Smith didn't have a touchdown and had eight interceptions.
“I have to work. Nothing I did this year is going to help me in terms of next year,” Smith said. “It’s all going to come down to the work I put in this offseason and how much I can get better from this season to the next. I’m not looking at it as what I did this year going into next year. I have to put the work in this offseason. I have to prove myself every single day in practice in order to be the starter.”
He should receive a boost this offseason with more weapons at his disposal. Jeremy Kerley has proven strong in the slot and is nearly automatic on third down. David Nelson will return and even Stephen Hill showed some mild progress this year. But the Jets should have significant space under the salary cap to make additions.
With perhaps a signing via free agency to the wide receivers, the cupboard certainly isn't bare for Smith, should he win the starting job next year.
There's also the added bonus of the return of head coach Rex Ryan, which likely means much of the coaching staff will return. This is an important piece of continuity for Smith, a surprising twist of stability for a franchise who had gone through three offensive coordinators in as many years.
“Yeah, it’s very important to have the same system for a second year,” Smith said. “To have an offseason in the system is extremely important and to have the same coaches and the guys that you’re familiar with, that you’ve been with throughout a season, it pays dividends in the long run.”