Geno Smith is no dummy
|09.09.13 at 10:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When it comes to the Patriots, Geno Smith has done his homework.
A week after Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson displayed an alarming lack of knowledge about the New England secondary — saying Patrick Chung still played for the Patriots when he was with the Eagles — the Jets rookie quarterback proved Monday he knew the type of opponent he was up against this week.
Asked on a conference call by the New England media what stands out for him about the New England defense, the rookie out of West Virginia proceeded to rattle off 10 of the Patriots 11 starting defensive players, including minor tidbits along the way, like how linebacker Dont’a Hightower came out of Alabama and safety Steve Gregory was with the Chargers before signing with New England before the start of the 2012 season. (The only starter he didn’t mention was new defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.)
It seems like a relatively minor point, but when rookie quarterbacks routinely forget who was in which division (hello, Ryan Tannehill) and players like Johnson forget who suits up for that week’s opponent, it was a sign — no matter how small — that the youngster has an appreciate for the challenge that lies ahead.
Smith — who was taken 39th overall this past spring by the Jets — said the New England defense is more than just a collection of individuals.
“They’re a very well coached defense,” Smith said. “They obviously present mismatches for anybody, so it’s going to be tough for us. We just have to continue to stay smart.”
While his professional career is still in its’ infancy, to this point, Smith managed to impress the New England coaching staff — particularly how he operated in New York’s 18-17 win over the Bucs on Sunday. Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Smith had a “great game” on Sunday, finishing his professional debut with 24-for-38 for 256 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
It was important for Smith to get off to a good start, but at the same time, the rookie said the focus should be on the fact that the Jets are 1-0.
“it’s great to get a win for the Jets,” he said. “It’s great to win your home opener and obviously you don’t want it to come down to dramatic fashion, but that was the way the game was played. Both teams played a hard, physical game, and it came down to a last second drive, which it usually does in the league anyway.
“It’s something that we’ve repped a ton of times. We go with these scenarios in practice and throughout camp, and even now a million times. So when the chances are there, you need to be able to step up and take advantage of the moment. We did that this weekend and I am extremely pleased with that, but now it’s time to move on and prepare ourselves for Thursday night.”
Smith, who won the starting job out of camp after beating out incumbent Mark Sanchez, said that to this point, it’s been a great opportunity to work with Sanchez, as well as the rest of the offensive coaching staff.
“We work together extremely well, and we’ve done that since day one,” Smith said. “The communication is great, and we all, whenever we see something, if we get a tip on the defense or if we get a key, we communicate it with one another, as well as with [Offensive Coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg] or [Quarterbacks] Coach [David] Lee.
“That’s something that helps us out in games, because you have to trust what you’re seeing and you have to trust how you’re being coached. You can’t hesitate out there. So it’s going to take every single man on this team to get a victory, and we’ll come together and do so.”
Rookie quarterbacks making their first career start against Bill Belichick and the Patriots have struggled in the past. Including last week’s game against Buffalo’s EJ Manuel, rookie starting quarterbacks facing Belichick’s Patriots for the first time are 4-8 (overall, rookies are 4-14 vs. Belichick’s Pats).
If Smith can pull it off, he can join a list of quarterbacks that includes Ben Roethlisberger (2004), Sanchez (2009), Colt McCoy (2010) and Russell Wilson (2012), all of whom beat New England in their first year in the league. He knows it will present a supreme challenge.
“They know the game, they’ve been around for a while now and I think they play well together,” Smith said of the New England defense. “They’re definitely going to present some challenges for us, but we are going to prepare as we always do, and I think we’ll be ready for it.”
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