Is Geno the man?
HE EARNED IT
Geno Smith's strong finish to the season means one thing: He should be the New York Jets' No. 1 quarterback heading into 2014.
Smith obviously made his share of rookie mistakes, but the Jets stuck with their second-round pick, and he rewarded them with a pair of impressive performances against Cleveland and Miami to end the year.
In those two games, Smith completed 58.7 percent of his passes, threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. After throwing 16 interceptions in his first 11 games, Smith had just five in his last five games -- none in the final two.
It definitely makes sense for the Jets to bring in a proven backup who they can turn to in case Smith falters. Coach Rex Ryan stuck with Smith throughout the season, in part because he didn't have another legitimate quarterback on the roster between the inexperienced Matt Simms and the 35-year-old David Garrard.
But Smith still deserves to be the guy.
The Jets invested a lot in him. During the offseason, GM John Idzik needs to surround the 23-year-old with better offensive weapons, including a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver, if possible.
Then it's on Smith to build on what he accomplished his rookie season in his sophomore campaign.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com
HIGH HOPES AREN'T ENOUGH
Don't let the final four games deceive you.
Yes, Geno Smith played better in the final quarter of the season and showed improvement. However, that doesn't mean the Jets should go into training camp with Smith as their No. 1 quarterback. The Jets should instead bring in a veteran who would give them the best chance to get back to the playoffs.
For the majority of the season, Smith, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft, didn't pass the eye test as a franchise quarterback. Sure, he had his moments, including last-second wins against Atlanta and Tampa Bay early in the season. Too often, though, he looked like he shouldn't have been on the field.
By bringing in a veteran, the Jets probably give themselves a better shot of making the playoffs in 2014, and buy more time to draft that franchise quarterback.
Consider this: Smith completed 55.8 percent of his passes this season, throwing 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions for a 66.5 quarterback rating. In 2009, a Jets rookie started 15 games and completed 53.8 percent of his passes and threw 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions for a 63.0 rating.
That rookie, of course, was Mark Sanchez. Hopes were high then. They never worked out. The Jets would be wise not to be too enamored with a four-game stretch at the end of the year. Strong showings in December, when teams are eliminated, doesn't guarantee success in the future.
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com