The former West Virginia star and current starting quarterback for the New York Jets, Geno Smith, has certainly had his share of growing pains – and he’d be the first to tell you that – but after committing four turnovers in an ugly Week 4 loss, the rookie signal caller bounced back in a big way Monday night, on the road and during prime time.
Smith became just the second rookie quarterback in the 44-year history of Monday Night Football to win a game on the road.
And according to CBS’s Will Brinson, Smith is the first quarterback to complete more than 75 percent of his passes, throw three touchdowns and win a game on the road since Carson Palmer did it in 2003.
Even more importantly, Smith cultivated his third game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime (first in the NFL) in only five games total as an NFL quarterback.
After playing solidly all game, Smith and the Jets offense somehow found themselves down a point with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but Smith remained as cool and confident as his days rewriting the offensive record books at West Virginia.
Smith went on to complete three consecutive passes, scramble for eight yards and a first down and then complete another pass to set up Nick Folk for the game-winning 43-yard field goal in an impressive display of the two-minute drill.
As soon as the ball cleared the uprights, a still calm and collected Smith met opposing quarterback Matt Ryan at midfield for a respectful handshake, and then answered reporters’ questions like he has hundreds of times before.
Smith is certainly still very green, and his stat lines might illustrate that better than anything. The rookie has already tossed eight picks and lost three fumbles through just five starts.
But some adversity is always expected when you’re dealing with a rookie quarterback who’s still learning on the job.
Smith has deftly managed this adversity though, and taken the blame and the responsibility when things have gone sour (always the sign of a leader), while remaining humble when he’s been successful.
Smith’s quarterback rating of 147.7 was the best in the entire league this week, better than Peyton Manning (129.6) or Tony Romo (140.0), but he was still as grounded as ever in Monday’s post game.
That’s one of the biggest reasons Smith will one day have a chance to be an elite quarterback in the NFL.
Some might see that as a big stretch considering we’re only five games into his career, and he clearly still has a lot to learn about playing at the highest level. But in many ways, this season has already panned out better for Smith than he probably could have ever imagined, even as confident as he is in his abilities as a football player..
Even when the Jets decided to take Smith early in the second round of last year’s NFL draft, most people expected he would likely spend the majority of his first professional season playing as a backup to Mark Sanchez, learning the ropes outside of the spotlight.
Instead, Smith has already engineered three wins in five starts via three game-winning drives.
If he can remain mentally tough throughout the rest of this year (definitely easier said than done), Smith will continue to develop the physical skills he already possesses and mature into a very capable NFL quarterback.