- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the New York Jets' quarterback play:
Rewind: Geno Smith said he was "fairly happy" with his NFL debut, and he should be. He overcame two turnovers in the second quarter to help the Jets to a wacky, last-second win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was at his best in the fourth quarter, completing 7 of 11 passes for 83 yards. The rookie took some big licks from the Bucs, but he never lost his composure. On the downside, Smith must improve his pocket presence, knowing when to get rid of the ball. He was uneven against extra pressure, going only 5-for-10 for 51 yards and four sacks.
Fast forward: This week, Smith faces a number of challenges: The Patriots. On the road. On a short week. It doesn't get much tougher for a rookie quarterback. The limited amount of practice time could have a significant impact on him. Young quarterbacks need to rep plays in practice and get familiar with certain looks, and he won't have that. If Smith sees a coverage he doesn't recognize, he'll have to rely on basic football instincts. Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel wasn't rattled by the Patriots in the opener, but he had the benefit of the home crowd and weeks of prep time.
Run, Geno, run: The one element of Smith's opening-day performance that caught NFL observers by surprise was his ability (and desire) to scramble for yards. He ran six times for a team-high 47 yards. He isn't slow by any means (he ran the 40 in 4.59 seconds at the combine), but he never was known as a runner in college. This will give the Patriots something else to think about as they prepare for Thursday night.
Prediction: Smith is facing one of the most opportunistic defenses in the league. In fact, the Patriots have forced a turnover in 28 straight games. Chances are, the streak will reach 29. Smith figures to throw at least one interception and suffer a strip sack by Jets killer Rob Ninkovich.