For the first time in years, the quarterback position looks to be stabilized regardless of who lines up under center. Geno Smith, coming off a roller coaster rookie campaign looked much improved in his first live game action this season. In the pre-season, you look for the little things to be improved upon a young quarterback, and Smith passed the test with flying colors.
In his rookie season, Smith struggled with a case of the 'happy feet,' an issue that plagued former Jet Mark Sanchez for much of his career with the team. In fact, Sanchez's biggest problem he faced was his inability to mature and show poise in the pocket. Sanchez continuously struggled against teams that would provide pressure, and his success was based off the offensive line’s ability to provide a clean pocket. When faced with pressure Sanchez would panic and the end result was usually a turnover or sack.
Smith, like most rookies, faced much of the same issues that Sanchez did throughout his career. However, in the first pre-season game, you saw a much more confident signal-caller. Smith showed adequate poise in the pocket, even if it wasn't clean. He kept his eyes focused on his options down the field, and didn't let the pressure he was faced with interfere with his ability to read the field.
When asked if the game has slowed down in the preseason following training camp, Smith responded
“Yeah, it felt good. I was going through my reads pretty smoothly,” he noted. “(On) a couple of those plays, they got some guys that were free on me and I had to get the ball away. But other than that, the game felt good. It felt smooth. I was able to go through my reads and hit some open guys. With time, we’ll get better and just continue to progress and continue to work hard.”
It’s encouraging news to hear that there is actual progress being made at the quarterback position. During the Sanchez era, there was much belief around the organization and fan base that he hit a plateau, and never really progressed as a football player. Many former Jets believed that Sanchez was never pushed enough to compete, and never really faced any competition for the starting job.
General manager John Idzik has preached “competition” since day one and with newly acquired Michael Vick in town to compete with Smith, Is it farfetched to believe that the arrival of Vick has helped fuel the fire to motivate Smith? Vick is an established veteran who can still succeed on the NFL level. This isn’t Tim Tebow in town as a sideshow to generate fan interest. Vick is a former Pro Bowler who still possesses the talent to snatch the starting job away from Smith if he was to slack off. Vick’s guidance looks to have been extremely helpful to Smith.
When Vick was asked about Smith’s performance, Vick seemed to like what he saw.
“I think Geno did well. He did good enough for coach to pull him out after two good series,” stated Vick. “Moved the ball down field, got a field goal, got three points and anytime you score some points, it’s always a good thing. I think when we go back and watch the film, all the mistakes he made are correctable and I think, at the end of the day, Geno did a good job.”
All reports indicate that Vick has been an extremely helpful asset to the Jets and has been nothing short of a respected leader in his time since signing with New York. When asked if the two joke about football, Vick quickly put an end to that rumor.
”No, we don’t do that,” the veteran signal-caller told reporters. “We laugh at plenty of other things. Anything football related we’re trying to help one another.”
Vick isn’t taking a backseat approach to becoming a backup Quarterback, and his approach to becoming a backup has been nothing short of spectacular. Even if Vick doesn’t get a chance to start for the Jets, his impact has already been vital to the success of Smith and the New York Jets. If Smith is to improve this upcoming season, Vick deserves much of the credit for pushing Smith as well as pushing his wisdom onto the 23-year-old.