Column: Can Geno Smith rebound this coming season?


Newly appointed New York Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said that former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith will be the Jets starting quarterback this season.

Smith, now in his third season in the NFL has yet to be on the upswing. In two seasons Smith has thrown 34 total interceptions. Even though Smith hasn’t taken a major step forward just yet, ESPN reports that Gailey never fathomed the thought of having a quarterback battle between Smith and the recently added, veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

“He’s (Smith) very talented,” Gailey told ESPN. “I have high hopes for him.”

There were high hopes for the former Mountaineer after he and the dominant duo of receiver Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey pummeled Clemson in the 2012 Orange Bowl game. Hopes were high for the entire West Virginia team the following season, but Smith and company fell well short of those high expectations.

Smith followed the trend, too. Accomplishing very little in his first two seasons in the NFL. The remarks from Gailey should come as a surprise for Jets fans. Why wouldn’t the Gailey want to see what the old-gun Fitzpatrick has left in the tank? We’ve seen what Smith’s brought to the table for two seasons now and it’s nothing to ride home about.

Not to knock Smith’s abilities — he’s in the NFL for a reason, but he slipped to the second round of the NFL Draft for a reason too. It’s still early in his career, but if the first two seasons are any indication, Smith is skating on thin ice in year three.

Through three seasons Smith has thrown for 5,571-yards, 25 touchdowns and the aforementioned 34 interceptions.

Perhaps there’s an argument that can be made in terms of pressure. Not the linebackers running at Smith, but the pressure to perform. Gailey showing his support for Smith this early, that’s a confidence booster for the still young, struggling Smith.

Maybe with the OC’s blessing, Smith can instill confidence in himself and the pressure to perform will be somewhat alleviated.

While Smith’s won over his coordinator (for now), the general assumption among Jets fan is probably not so positive. If Smith is slow starting, the calls for his head may be louder than ever. An impatient fan base has gotten a whole lot of average and even below average play out of Smith and don’t want to wait him too much longer.

Newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall may help Smith’s cause, while Eric Decker and Devin Smith will be familiar faces in the receiving corps.

It comes down to how Smith can handle the pressure to succeed. He’s had flashes of being a solid NFL quarterback — a prime example being the perfect passer rating he posted against the Dolphins last season.

A strong arm, a pocket passer and the ability to make plays with his legs, there’s no reason Smith can’t pan out to be the quarterback the Jets need.

It’s all on his shoulders, though.

The clock is ticking on Smith and year three is a make or break one for the former Mountaineer.