Thursday, September 12, 2013
Geno Smith tries to make history
By Rich Cimini
This is what Geno Smith is up against Thursday night in Foxborough: No rookie quarterback has ever won in New England against a Bill Belichick-coached team, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
In fact, rookie quarterbacks are 0-4 on the road against the Belichicks, and the average margin of defeat was 23.5 points. All four were first-round picks -- Byron Leftwich (Jaguars, 2003, lost by 14 points), Mark Sanchez (Jets, 2009, lost by 17), Andrew Luck (Colts, 2012, lost by 35) and Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins, 2012, lost by 28). They combined for a 52.1-percent completition mark, 10 interceptions and only four interceptions.
By the way, the Patriots are the first team since the merger in 1970 to face rookie quarterbacks in Weeks 1 and 2, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They beat the Bills' EJ Manuel in the opener.
A few other statistical nuggets to whet your Thursday night appetite:
1. If I'm the Patriots, I'd be worried about Smith's ability to make plays outside the pocket. He left the pocket 17 times in Week 1, most of any quarterback. On those plays, Smith went 6-of-9 passing for 60 yards, scrambled six times for 47 yards and was sacked twice.
2. The Jets' running backs need to do a better job of catching the ball. The backs dropped three of 10 passes that came their way in the opener (two by Chris Ivory), a drop-ratio of 30 percent -- by far the worst in the league for a running-back unit.
3. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 5-0 in Thursday games, the best winning percentage in history (minimum: five starts). Next on the list is Peyton Manning at 9-1.
4. With Shane Vereen (injured reserve) ruled out and Danny Amendola likely to join him, Brady will be without two of his top three targets from Week 1. When targeting those two and Julian Edelman in Week 1, Brady went 24-for-33 with two touchdowns. When targeting all other Patriots receivers, Brady went 5-for-19 with an interception.