Geno Smith told reporters yesterday that despite the team’s signing of free agent Michael Vick last month, he expects to be the New York Jets’ starting quarterback in 2014. Put aside what you think of Smith’s ability – I’m just happy he answered the way he did.
When confronted with that kind of question – “Do you think you can win the starting job at your position?” – a player can give one of three answers. Firstly, he can admit to having no chance to win, which no professional athlete will ever say. Even Denver Bronco QB2 and Peyton Manning’s “competitor,” Brock Osweiler, told the Denver Post last preseason, “Right now, I’m listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart and so I’m going to prepare like I’m the starter.”
That number two’s reply is option number two: The reply that doesn’t actually answer the question, that instead states the player’s admiration for the other guy and excitement to compete. The player’s final option is to say yes, he believes he will win the job.
The non-answer answer is tame, politically correct, careful not to step on toes but rather around them. A player answering “yes” displays his confidence to the world. What more do you want from your professional athletes’ attitudes than confidence, particularly at the quarterback position? I would rather have my quarterback state his confidence than deliver empty words.
It’s only April – the time to break down another hard-boiled Jet quarterback controversy will be here before we know it. Right now, it’s a comfort to know Geno Smith, the man who threatened not to return to the Radio City green room after falling out of the first round of the draft, believes in himself.
“Knowing that I am going to take every action possible to get better and to come into this season as a better player [gives me confidence],” said Smith. “Having a second season in Marty [Mornhinweg’s] system, [being with quarterback coach] David Lee [for a second season] and with Rex as the head coach is going to do wonders, not just for myself but everyone on the offense.”
He’s right, you know. Many fans believe in the “sophomore slump.” Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III suffered this curse recently, but it is not a fact of life. Russell Wilson’s sophomore season won him a Super Bowl. For many others, like Smith, the second year of a pro career is a time of advancement.
“Obviously, it is going to come down to production on the field,” Smith continued. “I just believe that with the experience that I have gained and with the direction that we were heading in as an offense and where I see myself as a second-year player, I just believe that I am more than capable of being the starter.”
Smith said the Vick signing makes the team better and does not betray the organization’s supposed lack of faith in him, as pundits will have you believe.
“I think with our G.M. John Idzik, and with Coach Ryan and the staff we are doing everything possible to make our team better,” said Smith.
As he pointed out, having that full off-season is absolutely going to help Geno Smith get better – so his expectation to win the starting job is far more than empty words.