While he has only shown flashes of talent through the first two days of Jets minicamp, the team is still open to giving quarterback Geno Smith a role on offense.
On Wednesday, head coach Rex Ryan admitted that last year’s experiment with Tim Tebow didn’t work out but even with that failure in mind, the Jets could be prepared to give their rookie quarterback a role in the offense even if he doesn’t win the starting job. Smith, who was praised by both Ryan and quarterback coach David Lee for his quick feet and overall speed, could feature in a package designed to highlight his abilities.
The Jets won’t let the failure with Tebow a year ago mess with any plans they might have for Smith.
“I know what everybody’s thinking if we did that, ‘Oh, didn’t we try that last year?’ Again, certainly that’s a possibility,” Ryan said. “To probably make assumptions now probably isn’t the thing to do but we will let this thing work out and pan out and we’ll see.”
Ryan noted during his Wednesday press conference that last year during their Week 4 blowout loss to the 49ers, the Jets defense was unprepared for Colin Kaepernick. In that game, Kaepernick carried the ball five times for 50 yards and a touchdown. A similar role could be feasible for Smith, who worked primarily out of the shotgun in college and does like to throw on the run.
As far as winning the starting job, it might be a bridge too far right now for Smith. Along those lines, Lee called it an “open, even competition” between Smith and incumbent starter Mark Sanchez but it was clear on Wednesday that Sanchez is making the smarter throws and understands the offense better than the rookie.
Of course, Ryan didn’t squash the idea that the Jets could utilize a version of the Pistol offense or the read-option as a wrinkle in their game-day installation. But right now, Smith has bigger issues to deal with than worrying about carving out a niche for himself.
He continues to struggle in reading defenses and in his ball placement, meaning it is likely too soon for him to begin considering any role other than getting up to speed.
“Each player has his own situation. Right now my current situation is to compete and try to win the starting job,” Smith said. “If that day comes, whatever happens, I can’t speak in hypothetical terms, I can only talk about the present and my job here and now is to compete.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for live updates and photos throughout minicamp.