Before the 2014 season was officially deemed over for the Jets, the first sign of a team that was going to deal with a desperate QB situation came against the Chicago Bears. This game paired with the later and more productive games of Geno Smith’s season show the clear and most dangerous flaw in his game.
The subtle differences in ball placement can completely change the result of a play. Tom Brady has made a legendary career with his consistently elite short accuracy, something that has always been under appreciated compared to accuracy further down the field. Earlier in the season and in his rookie year, Smith regularly showed poor judgement in where he put the ball on nearly every short throw.
On this play, the ball is thrown to the wrong shoulder and the result is only a gain of a yard. A throw ahead of Kerley, either forcing him to move slightly up the field or giving him a running start would guarantee a better result. The same exact thing occurs in the next play.
Powell is given the ball on the wrong shoulder and has to stop all his momentum, make the catch behind him, spin, and then square up a man. This ball should be thrown directly on Powell’s front shoulder.
A RB with better receiving skills would catch this but Smith makes this harder than it needs to be. Johnson has no one ahead of him with nearly 15 yards of vertical space to work with. This ball should not be thrown just below Johnson’s hip, it should be lobbed ahead of him and fall into his hands.
As you could guess, this issue isn’t limited to throws behind the line of scrimmage.
This play occurs on 2nd and 6, this catch is made for a gain of 5. What looks like a comeback route is actually an out route that Geno misplaces by throwing it too low and too far right forcing Greg Salas to adjust to the ball.
Things get worse as we move further away from the line of scrimmage and open receivers are consistently missed.
There’s no explaination needed for these two, Smith just misses. Although on the first throw there are some mechanical issues that cause the throw to go wide, on most of these throws there’s no huge mechanical flaw to be found. Geno just has a natural lack of certain accuracy. This isn’t a dooming factor of a players game, there’s actually franchise level QBs in the NFL right now who’s accuracy isn’t consistent but those QBs are able to excel in other areas. The next section however, that’s what will likely be the fatal flaw in Geno Smith’s career as a starter.
I Can See It (But I Can’t Feel It)
The right and wrong decision is regularly realized by a QB within the short moment between the ball being in their hand, reaching the apex of their throwing motion and the moment it has left their hand. The great long-term starting QBs in the NFL are the ones who see the wrong decision without ever having to throw the ball. With Smith, there’s a consistent concerning feeling of him seeing the wrong decision but not feeling it until it’s too late. Sometimes it’s even worse than that, he doesn’t even see the decision he’s making.
This is the first throw of the game. It happens on first down after a 17 yard run by Chris Ivory. Geno Smith is trying to fit a lobbed screen pass between two players for what will likely be a loss of yardage, if completed. There’s no reason for this pass to happen, this play should be found dead immediately. It’s made so much worse by how off it is from the target.
The second interception was just as bad.
In this play, Geno Smith is able to extend the play and give his receivers a chance to potentially get open. When all the players are still covered, he completely loses any sense of reason and tries to force this ball into a situation it can not win. David Nelson is running to his right with Kyle Fuller all over him and a safety running in the opposite direction. There’s nothing here, so what could he have seen? If he wanted to make this a jump ball, why did he throw it like a line drive? To compound how stupid of a decision this is, this throw also happens on first down.
Then the decision making finds new problems as Smith begins throwing without reading.
This time, Smith makes two poorly thought out decisions. First, after the play action he decides he shouldn’t keep running, assuming that Jared Allen has the angle or the speed to catch him. Neither of which is true. Instead of throwing the ball away because of this assumption, he throws the ball to where it’s designed to go without looking if the route is open. This play is tough to rationalize.
The same event occurs in the next play.
This play is designed to have Jeremy Kerley pull LB Jon Bostic outside far enough that David Nelson will be open when he breaks inside. Geno Smith breaks his gaze from the left side of the field expecting that the coverage will be pulled that way since in zone coverage they’ll likely be following his eyes. He doesn’t make sure the field actually follows through with this though. He immediately turns his head and decides to throw as pressure comes down on him and is incredibly lucky. This is another huge mistake and to make it worse, it’s also on first down.
The Exciting Conclusion
When I was breaking down Geno Smith’s later games there was a significant lack of timing and anticipation in many of his throws. It looked like he was slowing himself down purposely in order to get confirmation from the field. With plays like these happening, the reasoning why becomes clear and the likely fatal flaw in Geno Smith’s career is found: he takes too long to process the field.
Suddenly, the lack of redzone success for the Jets becomes almost entirely figured out. Within the condensed space of the redzone Geno Smith fails to make the decisions he needs to make fast enough. In my breakdown of Geno Smith’s perfect game against Miami he fails twice in the redzone waiting too long on back to back plays before making a decision. Against the Bears too Geno has multiple plays in the redzone that show bad traits, one of which even results in a touchdown.
This play might look like a threading of a window, but look at the space ahead of Kerley. Look at what the result of this throw could have been because of where he placed it. By choosing to throw this directly at Kerleys position, forcing him to slow down and catch the ball behind him, he gives the CB that Kerley has beat a chance to potentially defend against the pass. Then he also opens up Kerley to being hit by the safety which could easily result in this being incomplete. This throw should have gone further into the endzone and been an easy uncontested catch.
Let’s look at the final pass of the game.
I don’t know what made Smith throw this ball late, but that’s what happens here. Smith either thinks he should take the slant and then pulls down the ball or he hesitates to throw the corner to Kerley, which ruins the timing. Those two extra steps Geno takes at the top of his dropback force this to be thrown and caught out of bounds.
Geno Smith just doesn’t process this information fast enough.
Click On The Next Page To See All of Geno Smith’s Passes.