Jets owner: Geno Smith 'has all the skills' to succeed
By Jesse Reed
While the team is expected to try and bring Fitzpatrick back in 2016, Johnson seems to think Smith could still be the long-term answer at quarterback, provided he has the desire to make it happen. When asked if Smith has the makings of a franchise quarterback, Johnson responded:
“I mean, that’s up to the eye of the beholder,” he said per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “But he has all the skills. It is a question of what his desire is. And from what the coaches told me and from what I have seen myself, I think he has matured a lot. And he is working on his game and he knows he’s a professional and he has the ability if he sticks with it.”
Coming out of West Virginia, it looked like Smith was going to potentially be drafted in Round 1. He had thrown 73 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions in his final two years with the Mountaineers and completed 71.2 percent of his passes as a senior. However, he experienced an Aaron Rogers-type green-room experience, falling all the way into the second round where the Jets happily scooped him up.
Smith struggled mightily to adapt to the NFL game in his first two years in the league, making his draft-day slide appear justified. He compiled an 11-18 record while throwing 25 touchdowns and 34 interceptions before the 2015 season, and many wondered if he was going to have the wherewithal to take the next step in his development or prove to be a bust.
During his year out of the starting lineup, Smith impressed Johnson and the coaching staff.
“Geno, I think, had a pretty good year,” Johnson said. “We will see in the summer how he (does) but I think the coaches are pretty optimistic about what he has learned and maturity. We know he can throw a ball. I think he has taken it to a new level and we will see how it plays out.”
If Smith does end up panning out as a franchise passer like Johnson hopes he can, then the Jets will be a perennial contender in the AFC. Led by second-year coach Todd Bowles, New York’s defense is stocked full of talent, and the offense isn’t lacking game-changing playmakers.
Assuming Fitzpatrick is re-signed or another couple of seasons (or longer), Smith will continue cultivating his game until his number is called. In the end, his broken jaw could have been the best thing that ever happened to the young quarterback, who appeared in over his head in his first two years in the NFL.
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