"Another day getting better, another day getting acclimated to the playbook, another day getting used to my surroundings," noted Smith. "I feel like I'm getting better and getting more comfortable with it. Still studying hard and still trying to get better daily."
Smith feels a lot more comfortable than he felt during rookie minicamp. But, the West Virginia alum realizes there is much more that he needs to improve on.
When asked what part of his game he felt was most important to improve on Smith replied with the simple response of, "everything."
"From the standpoint of just having a better understanding of the route concepts," mentioned Smith on one of his main areas to improve. "Having a better understanding of the protections. Being able to get in and out of certain protections. Being able to see hots and make adjustments with the wideouts, make adjustments with my backs and offensive lineman. But those guys have done a great job. Just continuing to study. Al the young guys are working very hard and I think we're doing some good things. But we also have many things we can improve on."
It first glance that may seem like a laundry list of improvements for a player that had great success at the collegiate level, but the NFL is no laughing matter. During Smith's senior year alone he threw for 4,205 yards and 42 touchdown passes. Smith is West Virginia University's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 98 career scoring tosses.
Smith also displayed tremendous accuracy while in college. He played in 44 career games while with the Mountaineers and only threw 21 career interceptions. Smith also became the school's all-time leader in completions with 988.
Accuracy and decision making is something Jets' offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is emphasizing during the offseason leading into training camp.
"Coach Marty, Coach Lee, they stress not putting us in bad situations, not forcing the ball and taking what's there," Smith said. "That's what I try and do. I try to go out there and try and take my reads and if it's not there, try to throw it away. Live to play the next play."
Mark Sanchez struggled to consistently produce positive results while under center for Gang Green. Sanchez had 26 turnovers and 18 of which were interceptions, compared to just 13 touchdown passes. Sanchez said he plans on starter this season, but he will have a tough competition with Smith and Greg McElroy.
"That's not for me to decide," said Smith of the quarterback battle. "My job is to go out there and compete. Coach Mornhinweg, Coach Lee, Coach Rex, they do all the decision-making. I just go out and work hard."
One of Smith's biggest transitions in professional football will be moving from a shotgun heavy offense to a West Coast quick dropback system. Mornhinweg aims to mix in quick passes witht the Jets' traditional ground and pound game plan. Most of the offensive formations will begin under center for the Green and White.
"It's just about repetitions," Smith said about the new offense. "We get a lot of reps, put in a lot of work off the field aside from what I do in practice, just to make sure that my feet are in the right place. I do a lot of studying. I try my best to just catch up to some of the vets."
Mornhinweg is a celebrated offensive coordinator, coaching some high powered machines such as the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and Philadelphia Eagles. He has coached some notable quarterbacks throughout his career including Brett Favre, Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick. Mornhinweg wants the same success he saw out of his previous quarterbacks and is showing intensity in the locker room. Mornhinweg has brought over the same West Coast offense he ran while working in the City of Brotherly Love.
"He wants the work to be done the right way, said Smith of Mornhinweg's style. "Guys are out there working hard. There are going to be some mistakes but it's his job to continue to stay on us and he does a great job of that." Mornhinweg may have the toughest project of his coaching career. He either has to resurrect Sanchez's career or turn Smith into the leader of this offense as a rookie. Mornhinweg has to continue to play the tough teacher during a time of adversity for the Jets.
Smith on the other hand, will continue to work hard and leave the decision of who starts to the coaches.
"The coaches are going to choose who they feel is best for the team," Smith said. "It's not my job to really worry about that. Like I said, I just go out there and work." Whatever it takes to help my team win is what I'm going to do. I'm going to give it my best shot and see what happens from there."