Suddenly it was déjà vu all over again for the New York Jets. What had returned was last year's season. Geno Smith was at the helm, the Jets looked clueless, tackles were missed and missed again, clock management was a problem and, of course, when all was said and done, there was another defeat against the Oakland Raiders, 20-34. How much of this was Geno's fault?
To begin answering this question, it has to be stressed that football is the ultimate team sport. No one player can win or lose alone a game, no matter how good or bad. But players can greatly influence the outcome of the game. It was clear yesterday that the Jets organization places little trust in Geno. Incredibly, while the game was still being played, a report surfaced that the front office was looking for potential other quarterbacks available in the market. If true, this is truly shocking but not necessarily surprising. Geno inspires little confidence and almost no hope.
In evaluating Geno's performance, one has to take into account certain mitigating circumstances. First, Nick Mangold, one of the best centers in the NFL, was out due to an injury. In fact, the Jets team was petty banged up with several key players inactive. Second, the defense was uncharacteristically bad. Third, the Raiders are a resurgent, vastly improved team that was playing home at the infamous Black Hole; and Fitzpatrick was getting most of the practice reps leaving Geno somewhat unprepared in the role of the understudy suddenly thrust into action.
Which is not to say that Geno was blameless. In many ways, he was still the Geno we know and expect. He threw a boneheaded pass into double coverage and it ended up as an interception. He was also careless with the ball and with himself. To gain only a few extra yards he opted not to go out of bounds and suffered a clean but vicious hit that bruised him and probably affected the rest of his performance; and clock management is clearly not his forte, him not having the attributes of an elite QB.
Perhaps Geno is unlucky. He won the starting position when Mark Sanchez was injured in a meaningless preseason game against the Giants; and he lost it when he was sucker punched by I.K Enempkali reportedly over a measly $600 debt. Sunday's game was a plain awful occasion to launch a comeback.
Then again there might not be something as sheer luck in football. We should be reminded of Napoleon Bonaparte who before assigning generals into specific battle duties would always ask his aides: "Is he lucky?" Napoleon the Great knew that in warfare (and let's keep in mind the many parallels, linguistic and otherwise with football), men are to a certain extent responsible for their own "luck". In this sense, it is not insignificant that with his antics, erratic behavior and inconsistent performance, Geno Smith has alienated many of his teammates and most of the NY Jets fan base.
Geno Smith was not the sole or even the primary cause for the Jets' loss to the Raiders. But he is also not a franchise QB and certainly not the future for the Jets. There is now serious cause for concern about how the rest of the season will play out. But Geno Smith will probably not be able to help deliver the coveted and at least until recently deserved playoff berth.