The NFL and its fans love storylines, so here’s one for you: Rookie quarterback versus rookie quarterback. Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith was going into the 2013 NFL Draft with a lot of hype surrounding him. He was expected to go in the first round, but found himself falling all the way to the second round. E.J. Manuel was an afterthought going into the draft, and was predicted to get drafted in the late first round, or second round; but that didn’t happen.
The Jets shocked fans by not drafting Smith in the first round, and the Bills shocked fans when they skipped over Smith and drafted Manuel in the first round with their 16th pick.
What Jets get with Geno Smith
In the first-half of Smith’s senior season, the quarterback put up some video game-like numbers; he threw for 2,274 yards, 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions, completing 75 percent of his passes. Ridiculous, right? During his last seven games, though, his numbers dropped: in those last seven, he threw 1,931 yards, 17 touchdowns with six interceptions, and his completion percentage dropped to 67 percent.
Smith has a good arm and can throw very well on the run. He has a strong and accurate arm, capable of making all his throws, including seam routes, slants, sideline passes as well as the deep ball, all without losing velocity. He’s not a “running quarterback” but he can make plays with his legs. At 6’3″, 218 pounds, he’s a big and mobile quarterback that is good in play-action and can be effective in the pistol formation, and the shotgun.
With Mornhinweg as the offensive coordinator, Smith has the potential to shine. But we haven’t seen that, at least not yet.
What Jets could’ve had with E.J. Manuel
Manuel definitely has the size at 6’5″ and 237 pounds. He has all the physical tools the Jets would want in a NFL quarterback. He has a strong arm, and has the running ability to be effective in the read-option and pistol packages, which could’ve come in handy with Mornhinweg’s offense.
As a senior, Manuel completed 68 percent of his passes; 263 completions for 3,397 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran the ball 103 times for 310 yards and four touchdowns. To add to his college resume, Manuel also impressed at Senior Bowl. He was the best quarterback that week, making great throws in practice and in the game, being named Most Outstanding player. Manuel is a good play-action quarterback with a good touch on his ball on slants and rollouts. He’s an elusive runner when the pocket collapses but always keeps his eyes downfield when running.
Don’t mistake the quarterback as a run-first guy, though. Manuel has good pocket presence and movement, and can make accurate downfield throws. Manuel fits perfectly into an offense designed for quick and easy first reads (read: Jets).
So here we are, Week 3, and it’s the Bills vs. the Jets. E.J. Manuel vs. Geno Smith.
So far, Manuel has the upperhand, playing better football, and posting up better numbers. In two games, Manuel has a 96 QB rating, completing 68 percent of his passes for 446 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception.
In two games, Smith has a 55 QB rating, completing 53 percent of his passes for 470 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions — Smith has also been sacked nine times.
It’s tough to say that Manuel was the better option because we have to take into consideration the opponents they faced, their offensive line and their offensive weapons. Manuel clearly has more offensive playmakers than Geno does, so it’s hard to say the Jets should’ve invested an early pick on Manuel.
There’s plenty of football left in the season, so it should be interesting to see how these two young quarterbacks progress, but for now, let’s see how these two handle themselves this Sunday afternoon.