- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Geno Smith wore a Superman T-shirt on Monday, but the quarterback wasn't declaring any super powers after becoming the first rookie in New York Jets history to throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns in a game. Actually, he seemed more concerned with his potential kryptonite -- turnovers.
He has seven in three games, including six interceptions.
"(Offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) wasn't too happy and none of us are," said Smith, decribing the mood in the offensive meeting room a day after the Jets' 27-20 win over the Bills. "We've got to eliminate (the interceptions). We don't want to make him mad because he can get at you."
The only quarterback with more interceptions than Smith is the Giants' Eli Manning, who has eight.
On Sunday, Smith was victimized by two players that weren't on-ball defenders. He underthew Santonio Holmes on a deep seam, failing to see safety Jim Leonhard lurking in the center of the field. Later, in the third quarter, Smith threw for Clyde Gates on a slant -- a route that had been successful in the first half. But the Bills made a halftime adjustment, deploying linebacker Kiko Alonso in the slant lane. Smith never saw him.
"I have to find a way to eliminate those," Smith said. "It comes with time and patience, but I'm pretty sure I'll get there at some point in time."
Four of Smith's six interceptions have come on throws of 15 yards or longer. The coaches aren't afraid to turn him loose, letting him attack downfield. Clearly, Smith's arm strength opens up the entire field for the offense, something the Jets were lacking with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Against the Bills, Smith averaged 11.4 yards per attempt, hitting Stephen Hill and Holmes for 51- and 69-yard touchdowns, respectively.
Smith improved in two areas: He didn't take any sacks (although much of that was due to superb pass protection) and he didn't force many throws.
"He threw four or five balls that he just launched out of bounds, just because he was going to avoid the disaster play," coach Rex Ryan said. "I was encouraged by that."
Smith is learning the fine line between caution and aggression. He'd better figure it out soon because he's on a 32-interception pace, and that won't work.
"I've always been an aggressive player and, at times, it can get me in trouble if I don't understand the situation, if I try to force the ball into some places that clearly the ball can't be completed," he said.
Smith said he must learn how to manage the game, playing to the defense. He's young, he'll learn.