The rise of Geno Smith last Sunday in a win over the Bills means that for at least one week, the Jets have a new face for their franchise. The Jets’ opponent this week is seeing its own young quarterback emerge as a budding star.
A shoulder injury derailed much of Jake Locker’s 2012 season for the Titans, limiting him to 11 games and some rather average numbers in what was his second NFL season. But in 2013, Locker is doing a little bit of everything while winning games for his team. He hasn't thrown an interception through three games following a season where he had more picks than touchdown passes.
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He is beginning to look like the No. 8 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
“This is really his first year being the guy. I think he’s making good decisions,” Titans head coach Mike Munchak said in a conference call with the New York media yesterday. “I felt last week it came together for him where he moved in the pocket well. He threw on the run quite a few times. He actually ran a few times. So I thought all of that was good.”
The Jets hope last was a coming of age for their young quarterback as well. Rookie Geno Smith completed 16-of-29 passes for 331 yards along with two touchdowns and one rushing touchdown as well as two interceptions. It wasn't a perfect performance from Smith — far from it — but he always bounced back from his mistakes and never hung his head.
In Week 2, Smith had three interceptions in the fourth quarter and seemed to progressively get worse as the game went on. He showed mental resolve this past week in always coming back and performing after adversity hit.
“I’ve been making progress. The good thing is that it’s been steady, it’s been day-by-day,” Smith said. “I try to take every single rep in practice as hard as possible and just try and perfect my craft. It’s a long ways coming. I’ve slowly been getting better. That’s always a good sign, especially with a young player, so I’m pleased with it as well.”
Like Locker a season ago in Tennessee, the Jets seem willing to let Smith make some mistakes and grow. But numbers like last Sunday, where both Jets wide receivers Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes had 100-yard receiving games and suddenly an opposing head coach will sit up and take notice.
“You see the development that you want to see. He’s only going into his fourth start. Last week they had a huge game numbers wise. He threw some balls up there. I think he passed for about 300 [yards],” Munchak said. “They’ve ran the ball well, passed it well. When you’re doing that it helps your quarterback. We have a young quarterback so we understand how that goes. Jake’s only played in a dozen games himself, so he’s pretty much a rookie himself. He’s doing a nice job. He’s hung in there each game. They’ve had a chance to be 3-0 right now with a young quarterback. They have to be happy with how he’s progressing. Obviously, he’s a good athlete. He can run. There’s a lot of things he can do and so I think it’s just a matter of him getting comfortable with the first year in the system and first year of getting to know his players and his receivers. With Hill and Holmes he’s got guys who can go make plays for him. It’s got to be exciting for him.”
Jets notes ...
»Running back Chris Ivory (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday but rode the stationary bicycle in practice. Ivory left Sunday's game due to a left hamstring injury but the Jets are not yet willing to rule him out of Sunday's game. A team source tells Metro, however, that “things don't look very good at the moment” with regards to Ivory being available to play on Sunday.
»The Jets had four passing plays of 40 yards or more in Sunday's win, and a big piece of those plays was Smith putting the ball in the right spot for his wide receivers to get yards after the catch.
“Well, I think that’s why our offense was successful in college is because we had guys who could stretch the field and then they competed down the field for the ball,” Smith said. “And I was able to put it out there where they could catch it.”
»Rookie defensive end Sheldon Richardson was limited in practice with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 1. Metro has learned that the injury is a contusion to his left shoulder but won't keep him out of this weekend's game.
»Cornerback Kyle Wilson was whistled on four straight penalties in the fourth quarter against the Bills, leading to him being benched. Wilson did return to the game but may not return to the starting lineup this week.
“I don’t know about that, we’ll see,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Wilson starting again this week. “Will he start in some defenses? Absolutely.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.