For one week at least, Geno Smith looked like the answer to the Jets' quarterback woes.
Against a Raiders pass defense that came into the game No. 23 in the league in passing yards allowed, Smith was tidy in a game plan clearly scaled back after three weeks of struggles. Smith finished 16-of-25 for 219 yards with a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown.
It was a reprieve for one week from the nonstop barrage of questions about whether Smith was still the starter. Last week, the Jets' offense was horrible and Smith was benched at halftime despite the fact they were down just 6-0. Smith, to his credit, rebounded.
“That's the mark of this young man. He's a resilient guy; he's shown that he can bounce back,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “It was an excellent performance on his part and really the team in general. I think the way the offensive line protected, the way the receivers got open and made some great catches for him. Really, overall, a bounce back for us offensively and as a football team.”
The Jets sprinkled in the run along with getting Smith moving out of the pocket by design. It kept the Raiders guessing and opened things up underneath.
It was the first time since Oct. 27, in a blowout loss at the Bengals, that his completion percentage was over 50 percent. He also threw his first passing touchdown since Oct. 20.
The majority of the routes were simple out patterns with very little coming down the field. Even the majority of the big yardage plays, such as Kellen Winslow's 28-yard completion, were yards gained after the catch from short passes.
The strategy worked as the Jets efficiently moved the ball down the field, making use of runs from their quarterback.
Smith calls his style “within the pocket,” but he had five rushes for 50 yards, including a third quarter rush of eight yards for a touchdown to put the Jets up 27-10.
“That's the thing, it's about learning when to pick your spots and when to pull it down,” Smith said. “Usually on every single play, we have three or four reads, and I'm the type of guy that is going to sit back there until the last second and try to find those guys. That's just my mentality as a quarterback.”
He said it was a point emphasized by quarterback coach David Lee and veteran backup David Garrard this week.
“I have David in my ear — both Davids, Lee and Garrard — in my ear every single day telling me, 'You're going to have to make a few runs, you're going to have to make two or three runs here or there.' Sometimes I have to brush it off and it turns out to be right,” Smith said. “Every single game that we've played where I've had those runs, they've ultimately sparked the team, and kept drives and being touchdowns.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.