The Geno Smith era in New York is off to a lackluster start, sure the team is a surprising 2-2 through a quarter of the season, but turnovers have plagued this team throughout and the rookie quarterback has struggled to avoid costly mistakes more often than not.
Tired of the turnovers, coach Rex Ryan is considering implementing a policy he previously has tried out with Mark Sanchez during his rookie season.
In an attempt to simplify the game and instill a game manager mindset in the rookie Smith, Ryan is reportedly debating whether or not he should color code the playbook worn around the quarterback’s wrist.
The technique may seem a little over-simplified for an NFL offense, and one would think that defenses would be able to pick up on the color pattern and adjust their game plans based on what sheet Smith was looking at as he called plays, but Mark Sanchez did lead the Jets to an AFC title game while donning the multi-colored wristband.
With Smith responsible for 11 turnovers through four games, the team is turning the football over at an alarming rate. Giving the ball away a notch shy of three times a game is unacceptable for an NFL passer.
That stat paired with the team’s 2-2 start is a testament to the quality of the Jets’ defense. Not many teams could withstand a barrage of turnovers like the Jets have and still be in the thick of the playoff hunt. Just ask the other New York team how difficult turnovers are to stomach.
Victories over Buffalo and Tampa Bay are nothing to write home about, but the Jets did hang in there against the undefeated Patriots with a national audience watching. The three point loss is perhaps their most impressive game to date, and was one in which Smith struggled to get his offense going.
Although Smith is inexperienced and struggling, it appears that Ryan has no intentions of turning back the clock to the Mark Sanchez era, a sign that Ryan knows he is coaching for his job this season.
That means that he needs to find a way to win with Smith now. Limiting turnovers is the easiest way to do that.
If wearing a color coded wrist band helps that, then that is what Ryan should be doing. Hey, it has worked before after all.
Ryan wants a more aggressive offense with Smith under center, but the gun-slinging has yielded mixed results. Interceptions come along with the big plays when more shots are taken downfield.
It’s the fumbles that are scary. The butt fumble-esque play against the Titans that went for a defensive touchdown was particularly embarrassing for the young Smith, and is something he surely needs to learn to avoid immediately.
“You can’t buy experience,” Ryan said. “But with that being said, we still have to do a much better job of, with Geno in particular, protect(ing) the football at all costs. You can’t be nonchalant about (ball protection technique). You have to protect the ball.”
If wearing a color coded wrist band is all it takes to slow the game down and help Smith understand what is expected from him in the Jets’ west coast offense, then he needs to strap it on when he takes the field on Sundays.
Today’s game is dominated by vertical passing, but defense and running the football still have a place in the game. Seattle could provide a nice blueprint for the Jets to emulate. Their talent level is not quite on par, but the hard nose defense is already present. A basic read-option attack could prove beneficial for Smith.
Oakland has also shown us that a one read and tuck the ball down to run passing attack can work this season. Terrell Pryor has been slow to develop into an NFL passer and the Raiders have adapted their game plans accordingly to ease him in.
Ryan does not have the luxury of easing in Smith to the Jets offense, he needs to win now. Perhaps he can have it all with a simple game plan and color coding the plays on the field.
It can’t hurt to try, it isn’t like they can turn the ball over any more than they did in their four turnover meltdown against the Titans in week four.
If it worked for Mark Sanchez, there’s a good chance it would work with Smith. Geno has the talent to be good, easing him into the professional game should help get him there. Ryan should be trying anything he can do get him there, no matter how crazy the idea may sound.
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express