New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith sees a bright future for himself in the National Football League after being selected as the league’s worst starting quarterback by ESPN Insiders following his rookie season a year ago.
Smith believes he will go from being in the same company with quarterbacks like Chad Henne and Matt Cassel to that of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers as his career progresses over the next few years.
“The thing about it is, you have to climb up. If I’m No. 32, by this time next year or the year after, I expect to be in the top 5,” Smith told ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini Saturday during Jets’ training camp.
As for how Smith was named the worst quarterback, eight general managers, two former general managers, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top league executive were surveyed to rank each starting quarterback from each NFL franchises. The group rated on a scale of one, the best, to five, the worst, which saw Smith score just 4.48 score among the league’s starters.
The results of that poll of ESPN Insiders didn’t so much hurt Smith, but gave the signal caller more motivation as he enters his sophomore season with the Jets.
“My first reaction was, ‘You know, man, I’ve got to prove them wrong,'” Smith said. “In the end, none of that matters. My key job is to make sure this team is improving and I’m doing everything I can for the betterment of this team.”
While most would just roll their eyes at Smith’s statement, the only thing that I personally found wrong with what he said would be the time frame that he gave himself to reach the level of play to match those in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. Even for quarterbacks like Brady and Manning, it took longer than just their second or third season in the NFL before they really got a solid foothold and became what they are now as two of the greatest quarterbacks of this era.
As for Smith, he seems to be putting extra pressure of being one of the league’s best on top of the scrutiny of being Jets’ franchise quarterback. But that might the type of pressure that will motivate him to get better faster instead of leaving the guarantee open-ended without a definite time frame.
With the talent showcased during his time as West Virginia starting quarterback, Smith will undoubtedly improve as the Jets do the same with pieces around him on offense like the free agent signings of former Broncos receiver Erik Decker and former Titans running back Chris Johnson.
“Guys improve all the time,” said Smith. “I’ve been watching football all my life. I’ve seen Peyton Manning grow up in this league. I’ve seen Tom Brady grow up in this league. I’ve seen Drew Brees. The main thing with all those guys, they’re hard workers and diligent. Those are the things I try to do, too.”
Smith will definitely need to work hard like those he looked to over the years as he progresses as a player in the NFL.
If not, the fierce New York media will surely let know Smith when he doesn’t reach his lofty goals of being one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.