Why Benching Geno Smith Shouldn't Be an Option

No, it is not time for the Michael Vick era in New York. In fact, it should not even be an option for the Jets unless second-year quarterback Geno Smith becomes completely ineffective (he is not) or goes down with a serious injury.

So much of the talk on social media during the Jets’ loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football said otherwise, however, with fans and media alike demanding the Jets sit the 2013 second-round pick in favor of 34-year-old Vick.

“If this persists,” said former Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff in an interview with SNY’s Jeane Coakley (h/t The Jets Blog). “I’m not saying to take a look at Michael Vick right now, but trust me, he’s in the back of my mind—he’s very much in the back, and he’s moving more forward as time goes on.”

But all that talk has to be just that—talk.

Smith is a young quarterback and young quarterbacks are going to make mistakes. A lot of them. The Jets must be patient for Smith’s sake and the franchise’s as a whole.

As of now, the former West Virginia Mountaineer is their future and it would do them no good to quit on him rather than allow for him to work out the kinks in his game and settle in. The 2014 NFL season is three games young and the Jets still have much to play for (they are now 1-2).

There is a reason Smith was widely regarded as the top quarterback in the 2013 draft class. He has the potential to be one of the better passers in the league with development. He flashed some of that potential down the stretch during his rookie year,

Smith was the catalyst in the Jets’ 27-19 loss to the Bears. His first throw of the game was picked off and returned for a touchdown, and then he added another interception later on with the Jets inside the red zone.

He also displayed flashes of brilliance throughout the evening, completing 16-of-18 pass attempts over the middle (5-of-7 from 10 to 19 yards, per Pro Football Focus). He did a great job spreading the ball around and, despite some costly mistakes, the Jets did exceed 400 yards of total offense—a feat not particularly familiar to Gang Green in recent years.

Because Smith was able to stay poised in spite of his struggles, the Jets were able to stay in the game and somehow managed to escape the Monday night matchup losing by just eight points. There’s no such thing as moral victories, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad when dealing with a young prospect like Smith who lacks the offensive weapons necessary to mask the flaws in his game.

 

Smith should get better with time. He’s already looked better than he did a season ago, even with the continued inability to avoid turning the football over (he threw 21 interceptions and fumbled five times in 2013).

Should his performance worsen as we get deeper into the season, maybe then there will be some merit to the demands for Michael Vick to be the starting quarterback. For now, let the 23-year-old gunslinger do his thing and see what heights he can lift the Jets to in what appears to be a surprisingly weak AFC East division.

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