Green Day: Talking Geno and Browning

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
6:00
AM ET
The New York Jets are preparing for a trip to Atlanta -- "Monday Night Football" -- and it has me thinking about the first time I covered a game in Atlanta, Sept. 6, 1992. It was the season opener, and the Jets began a new quarterback era that day with the unveiling of Browning Nagle.

They lost the game, 20-17, but the outcome was the sidebar. The headline was Nagle, who put on a show. He passed for 366 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, injecting hope into a franchise that wanted to distance itself from Ken O'Brien. I remember Jim Sweeney, their blue-collar center, telling me it was the best loss he'd ever experienced.

I thought I'd mention this because there are some interesting parallels between the Nagle and Geno Smith. Consider:
  • Nagle was a second-round pick, drafted 34th in 1991. He finished his college career at Louisville, but he actually began at West Virginia. Smith played at West Virginia and was drafted this year in the second round, 39th overall.
  • O'Brien grew up in California, became a first-round pick and enjoyed some great moments early in Jets career before his star faded and was tossed to the curb by the organization. That pretty much captures the Mark Sanchez story.

Now Sanchez is playing the role of O'Brien, albeit injured, watching from the sideline as the Jets try mold The Best New Hope into a legitimate NFL quarterback. I use Nagle as a cautionary tale because, as the great philosopher Santonio Holmes once said, "Looks can be deceiving."

Nagle never came close to duplicating his opening-day performance, suffering through a season that may have been the worst quarterback performance in team history. He never started another game for the Jets after '92. Smith is coming off a terrible game that can best be described as Nagle-esque, but -- who knows? -- it could turn out to be just as deceiving as Nagle's inspirational debut.

Moral of the story: Don't judge a young quarterback by one game.

By the way, here's a Smith-Nagle comparison after four starts. Obviously, it's not a flattering measure for Smith:

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ICYMI: Uh, oh. Holmes' hamstring injury is serious and he will miss multiple games. The Jets also could be without receiver Stephen Hill, who has a concussion. ... Backup receiver Ben Obomanu, who had more penalties than receptions last Sunday, was released Tuesday. They have a roster opening and are expected to fill it with free agent receiver David Nelson.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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