FLORHAM PARK: The Jets did just about everything the Jets could have during the 2015 offseason.
New York revamped its bruised and battered secondary with the signings of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine and Antonio Cromartie. It added arguably the best prospect in the NFL Draft with the selection of Leonard Williams, and traded for a receiver in Brandon Marshall who’s established himself as one of the best the game has seen. There’s been countless other signings, moves and acquisitions, too.
But the success of New York’s season depends largely on the play of quarterback Geno Smith. So, Calvin Pace has some advice for scrutinized third-year signal caller:
Be Geno Smith
“No one is asking you to be Joe Montana,” Pace said. “Just be Geno, play well and help us win games.”
For Pace, the veteran linebacker said he hasn’t ever and won’t ever try to put himself in Smith’s shoes or try to set expectations for him. The way he put it, aside from a kicker lining up for a 50-yard, game-winning attempt, no player feels more pressure than a team’s signal caller.
But Pace also knows that Smith doesn’t need to do it all for the Jets to have success. Sure, he can’t cause the Jets to lose games, but he can get all the help he needs when it comes to winning them.
“I really have no idea what he’s going through,” Pace said. “I just want him to get better, learn from his mistakes over the years and in practice and help us win a game. It’s never going to be just him by himself. You need your offensive line, your running game and the guys outside.”
Smith also needs a defense. And the one he’s got, on paper, looks to be one of the game’s best.
In 2015, New York’s unit finished as the sixth-best in the NFL, and that was with a secondary that was regularly picked on by an opponent’s quarterback. Now Revis, Cromartie, Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist have been added. A healthy Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson return.
“It’s nice to see what we’re trying to build and to get the players in to help the defense win,” Pace said. “Obviously, it’s a majority passing league now, so you need to have a number of corners that can go out there and compete.
“We’ve got that now. No more excuses. We need to go out there and make it happen.”
That means Smith, too.
“He’s got the pieces,” Pace said. “But, again, it’s not just on him. It’s the defense, offense and special teams.”Connor Hughes is the New York Jets beat writer for Jets Insider and The Journal Inquirer. He can be reached on Twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes) and via email ( email@example.com