As we near the end of quite a dramatic off-season, teams have begun to start their rookie training camp. Geno Smith has headlined the rookie camp for the Jets, and so far he has made quite an impression. After his first day of camp, he played fairly well but he still gave himself an ‘F’ grade, showing he is a harsh evaluator of himself. This could be a very fortunate attribute because he will be satisfied with no less than perfect, which means that he will do everything he can on the field to achieve that perfection.
Also, after a short span of time, it already seems that the locker room is cheering for Geno to win the quarterback competition over Mark Sanchez. Chris Wesseling reported for NFL.com that there is a “sense around the Jets that they want Smith to win the quarterback competition. This isn’t a baffling discovery, but it still is crucial to the Jets’ future. As we saw last year against the Cardinals, the minute Ryan finally benched Sanchez and put in McElroy, one could see the intensity and determination of not only the fans but the players rise. The team wants to be rid of Sanchez’s inadequate talent, and at this point anyone would suffice.
But Geno Smith is right now more than just anyone. So far, he has impressed several people affiliated with the Jets during his rookie minicamp. His accuracy has clearly improved since his West Virginia days and he has turned into a viable choice as starting quarterback. Viable, not spectacular. Geno Smith will still have a lot to improve on, which is why it would be for the best if Garrard starts at the beginning of the year.
Yes, it is true that Garrard has not thrown a pass in the NFL in over three years, but in his final year as a Jaguar he did post some quality stats. Granted he didn’t even average 200 yards a game (195.3), he was still very efficient, totaling 28 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions. Not only could he pass, but on the ground he could occasionally be a threat, rushing for 279 yards and getting almost two first downs a game via rushing alone!
Garrard’s playing style is very similar to Geno Smith’s, and believe me this is no coincidence. Idzik most likely brought in Garrard to mentor whichever quarterback they drafted, and when Geno Smith fell to them he had to take him. It’s almost uncanny how similar they are. However, it would be a shame if Smith is just thrust into the starting role immediately. We’ve seen in history that good but not great quarterbacks perform better when they have time in the NFL to learn their position better (examples: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick). It would be the best thing for the Jets if they can possibly trade Sanchez for essentially nothing, similar to what Oakland did with Carson Palmer, and let Garrard start for the entire season. This way, in the future, Geno Smith won’t just be forced into a starting role and it will give the Jets more time to surround him with weapons.
If the Jets develop Geno Smith very carefully, he has the potential to develop into a great quarterback. Carefulness will be crucial, though, because one wrong move could ruin his career and the Jets’ future.