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Monday, June 3, 2013
Geno Smith and pressure of 2012 QB class

By James Walker

The New York Jets are in full rebuilding mode in 2013. That is why it makes sense for the Jets to hand the ball to rookie quarterback Geno Smith sooner than later.

Smith, a second-round pick and the second quarterback taken in this year's draft, is competing with incumbent Mark Sanchez for the starting job in New York. But will success by last year's rookie quarterbacks place unfair pressure on Smith and others to perform well immediately?

The stellar 2012 quarterback class led by Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson all took their teams to the playoffs in their first seasons. Two other rookie quarterbacks --Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden -- started 16 and 15 games, respectively, and put up decent numbers. Fair or unfair, the bar has been raised for Smith, EJ Manuel of the Buffalo Bills and other rookie quarterbacks to produce immediately when they get their chance.

"Those guys have done great and I’m happy for them, but I have my own task," Smith recently told reporters about the 2012 quarterback class. "I’m going to continue to handle things the way I have always done, which is to keep working hard. I don’t worry about those things, I don’t worry about what the next guy did. That’s not for me to do. That’s not my job. I’m just here to work hard and here to try and help my team."

Smith has as good a chance as any rookie quarterback to win the starting job in Week 1. Sanchez led the NFL in turnovers the past two seasons, and reportedly some in the locker room feels it's time for a change.

The Jets are switching to a West Coast scheme under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. The quarterback who grasps the offense best will have the advantage. So far both quarterbacks have had their moments in organized team activities.

"I think he’s done well," Sanchez said of Smith. "He works hard. He’s done his best to get completions like we all are."

Rookie quarterbacks like Luck, RG III and Wilson were the exception, not the rule. The bar certainly has been raised. But do not expect a lightning-fast turnaround and immediate playoff results from this year's quarterback class.