Before putting up a decent performance in the team’s 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders last Sunday, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith characterized his play during the team’s three-game losing streak as “pretty much awful.”
And the miserable statistics Smith put up in those three games certainly lend to his assessment. In the loss to the Buffalo Bills, Smith was particularly terrible, going 8-23 for 103 yards and three picks for a QB rating of 10.1.
In the next game, a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Smith was a bit better but still awful: 9-22, 127 yards and only two picks for a QB rating of 22.3. It’s not good when that kind of game marks an improvement.
Finally, in a loss to the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago, Smith’s productivity took another nosedive, as the rookie quarterback threw for a dreadful 29 yards on 4-for-10 passing day that included one interception, bad enough for a horrific 8.3 QB rating.
But Smith showed a marked improvement in the win over the Raiders on Sunday. And while the numbers aren’t outstanding, he finished the game with two touchdowns — one rushing and one passing — while only throwing one pick and putting up a respectable 88.6 quarterback rating.
Looking back with a better perspective coming off a win, Smith believes that he was too mechanical in the three losses, likening his play to how a robot would play quarterback.
“At times, I was playing like a robot,” Smith said Wednesday, per a New York Post report. “I was dropping back, five hitch and throwing it. I know that’s the way it’s drawn up in the game plan and the way it’s supposed to be run, but everything is not ideal on the field. Sometimes you’ve got to improvise.”
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg credited Smith’s improved performance to playing more freely, using his legs to rush for 50 yards, an assessment which Smith also took.
“Throughout the game, [I was] just playing freely,” Smith said. “It goes back to not thinking about all my past mistakes. I think I kind of got into this zone where I just tried to be way too perfect and that’s almost impossible to do at any level, especially as a rookie [in the NFL]. There were times where I was so caught up in running the play and executing it to perfection that I didn’t allow my natural ability to take over at times.”
So, in Smith’s eyes, the less RoboQuarterback-type play, the better. At 6-7, Jets are not eliminated from postseason contention just yet and remain in the hunt for a wild card spot. But the team faces a formidable challenge on Sunday with a road game against the Carolina Panthers. Smith better play loosey-goosey if the team has any hopes of keeping its playoff hopes alive.