- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the New York Jets' quarterback position:
Rewind: Geno Smith can be mentioned in the same sentence as Peyton Manning, but this isn't the kind of sentence the rookie wants to be in. Smith became the first quarterback since Manning, in 2010, to throw three pick-sixes in a two-game span. He was intercepted twice by the Cincinnati Bengals, both of which were returned for touchdowns. The same thing happened to him once the previous week against the New England Patriots. Continuing his up-and-down pattern, Smith struggled in Cincinnati, completing 20 of 30 passes for only 159 yards in the 49-9 loss.
Fast-forward: Smith faces the New Orleans Saints (6-1), who have improved considerably under new coordinator Rob Ryan, Rex's twin brother. The Saints are tough on quarterbacks, having limited opponents to a 76.3 passer rating, the fifth-lowest in the league. Teams like to throw deep on the Saints (9.17 air yards per attempt, the fifth-highest in the NFL), and that happens to be Smith's specialty. Maybe there's hope.
A reflection of their quarterback: Everybody knows quarterback play is vital in the NFL, and it's especially true with the Jets. Smith has a plus-3 touchdown/interception differential in the team's four wins, and a minus-8 differential in its four losses. So there you go.
Prediction: Smith has demonstrated the ability to bounce back from bad games, but this will be a challenge. The Saints are playing great defense, having allowed only 13 touchdowns in seven games. They sack the quarterback and they force turnovers. It could be another long day for Smith.