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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
QB Watch: Jets' Geno Smith

By Rich Cimini

A weekly analysis of the New York Jets' quarterback play.

Rewind: Geno Smith would rather not rewind last week's game, but we will. Smith, trying to become the first rookie quarterback to beat a Bill Belichick-coached team in Foxborough, was decent through three quarters. But that's never good enough to beat a team like the Patriots. Eventually, Smith cracked, throwing three interceptions in the fourth quarter. We predicted at least two turnovers -- an interceptions and a strip sack. He avoided the latter. Hey, it's a baby step.

Smith
Fast-forward: The Bills employ a pressure-based scheme, designed to confuse quarterbacks with exotic blitzes and ever-changing fronts. The good news is that Smith already has been exposed to this style of defense -- a lot. It's a Rex Ryan-style defense, coached in Buffalo by former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who learned it from the master. This doesn't mean Smith will have an answer for everything Pettine throws at him, but at least it won't be foreign to him.

Avoid the funk: We've detected an early trend with Smith: He tends to make his mistakes in bunches. In Week 1, he had two turnovers and two sacks in the second quarter. In Week 2, he hit the wall in the fourth quarter, with the three interceptions. Every quarterback makes mistakes. The hallmark of an elite quarterback is the ability to forget and look forward. Smith's early track record suggests he's struggling with that aspect of his game. Right now, his touchdown-interception differential is minus-3, worst in the NFL.

Prediction: After last week's rough outing, it makes sense to dial it back and rely on the running game. Traditionally, the Jets run very well against the Bills. Look for a more conservative game plan than usual, with Smith -- 73 passes in the first two games -- becoming more of a game manager. He'll still throw an interception, but it won't be another hat trick.