The New York Jets have suffered at the hands of quarterback Mark Sanchez for the last two seasons. With an unacceptable number of interceptions, inaccurate passes and fumbles, Sanchez led the Jets to a 6-10 record last year and a 2nd consecutive year taking the month of January off.
However, there is drastic change afoot, off the field there is a new General Manager in John Idzik and 10 new coaches, including new co-ordinators on all three sides of the ball. On the field, with as many as 10 new starters on defense and six on offense, likely including the most pivotal position of all, Quarterback, the Jets are going to be a completely different proposition for opposing teams this year.
Geno Smith, the 22-year-old quarterback the Jets drafted with the 39th overall pick in this year’s draft, praised for his intelligence, arm strength and hard work coming out of college will almost certainly take the starting job away from the ailing Sanchez in time for the return of Darrelle Revis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.
But questions surrounded his ability to play under center having played out of the shotgun for his whole college career. These however, seem unfounded, with new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg already praising Smith for his quick grasp of the play book verbiage as well as his “almost seamless” transition to playing under center.
Smith offers the Jets a level of play at Quarterback they haven't had for many years. With a strong arm, capable of delivering a deep ball down field as well as threading lasers between linebackers in the red zone. Despite wanting to be known as a pocket passer, he also has the ability to run the much vaunted read option offense.
Many suggest Smith cannot be successful this year as the Jets don't have the offensive weapons of the calibre of Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey that Smith had available at West Virginia University. However, with Jeremy Kerley coming off a breakout year, the physicality of sophomore Stephen Hill and the safety blanket of resigned veteran, Braylon Edwards, Geno Smith does have pass catchers. Add into the mix the speedy Clyde Gates and the possibility of healthy former stars; Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow, under Mornhinweg's guidance, the Jets will move the football with far more ease than previous years.
Probably the strongest endorsement of the Jets’ offense is that the passing game won't have to do it alone, in Chris Ivory the Jets have a running back ready to explode onto the NFL scene as a three-down back, another luxury the Jets have lacked for many years. Ivory will be complimented by the bruising Bilal Powell and the speed of both Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight, who all can not only run the ball but also catch passes out of the backfield and head downfield.
It is a given that the Jets will have one of the very best defenses this year now Head Coach Rex Ryan is taking a more hands on defensive role so although many thought Smith’s soundbite of “we’re going to the playoffs, baby!” in his immediate post draft interview was another example of arrogance from a man expecting to be drafted in the top 10, there is no doubt Smith has the drive and potential to lead this new look franchise to the playoffs in his rookie year.
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