Geno has bright future in NFL
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 00:12
For about two years now, I’ve been confident that Geno Smith would be able to start for an NFL team one day.
The Mountaineers’ senior quarterback has a powerful and yet accurate right arm, a great understanding of offensive systems, as well as a myriad of intangibles, including his notoriously unshakeable resolve.
But as I watched the New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez dejectedly head to the bench at Met Life Stadium late Sunday afternoon, showered by a wave of thunderous boos, it became clear that Smith can possibly make an impact as a quarterback in professional football right away.
Sanchez is just one example of the quarterback futility that’s plagued a number of NFL teams this year. The Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings, to name a few, have also been the victim of miserable quarterback play this season, and it’s hard to imagine that the four players who started taking snaps for those teams Sunday will be around in a starting capacity next season. They’ve just been too consistently awful.
In fact, the current starters of those three teams combined with Sanchez for an average quarterback rating of a mere 37.3 this Sunday.
Let that sink in for a bit. Four NFL quarterbacks couldn’t surpass a collective rating of 40, even with Jacksonville’s Chad Henne inflating the group’s average with a rating of 57.8 against the 5-7 Buffalo Bills.
Sure, all of those quarterbacks are already more seasoned than Smith will be when he enters the league next season, but is that even a relevant point to make anymore with the way rookies are impacting the NFL now?
For example, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Washington’s Robert Griffin III began their rookie seasons as starters this year despite having never taken a single snap at the NFL level, and they’ve been two of the most outstanding quarterbacks in the entire league, on teams that were both just horrific last year.
Both Griffin III and Luck, taken No. 1 and 2 in last year’s draft, had tremendous collegiate careers at their respective universities, as the two combined for 19,726 passing yards and 160 touchdowns in their seven college seasons (Luck skipped his senior season at Stanford).
Lofty numbers, to put it lightly.
But Smith has actually completed a higher percentage of his passes for more yards and more touchdowns than either RG III or Luck, although it should be noted that Luck probably would have edged Smith in yards and touchdowns had he returned for his senior season.
Still, Smith’s numbers speak for themselves. The school’s most prolific passer now holds the records for most completions, passing yards, and touchdowns in a single game, an entire season and in a career for any player in WVU history. It should also be pointed out that Smith rewrote some of those records multiple times.
Some critics will still say Smith still has to prove he can move out of Dana Holgorsen’s shotgun spread offense and operate an NFL, pro-style offense before they’ll hand down their approval, but Smith’s transition to an NFL offense won’t be as difficult as the naysayers would have you believe.
Holgorsen himself has already said on numerous occasions that Smith is perfectly capable of taking snaps under center, and honestly, this year’s NFL season has shown that more teams are willing to adopt the up-tempo offense than at any other point in the league’s history.
So in essence, Smith may actually be more prepared than the average NFL quarterback to take on the evolving responsibilities of the position when he gets to the league.
Regardless, Smith has demonstrated an excellence over his career at WVU that can’t be ignored come 2013’s NFL draft. He can make any throw at practically any time and will come to work each day with the exact same mentality – an integral trait for a quarterback playing at the highest level.
This excellence, paired with the abysmal play from a number of incumbent NFL starters this year, ultimately means that there’s at least a decent chance Mountaineer fans will be treated to another season of watching Smith light up opposing defenses next year.
It’ll just be a day later than when they’re normally used to.