Jets QB Geno Smith Eager to Face Bucs Revamped Secondary
The Geno Smith era will begin for the New York Jets this weekend, and how long it lasts will be largely dependent on the performance he has against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' revamped secondary, a unit that now features two All-Pro defensive backs.
"Theyve improved their secondary from last year with the acquiring of [cornerback] Darrelle [Revis] and the safety, [Dashon] Goldson, both two of the best players at their position in the NFL," said Smith in a conference call with the Tampa Bay media Wednesday.
Smithand four-year starter Mark Sanchez had been immersed in aheated competition for the starting jobin camp, until Sanchez was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Now it's up to Smith to lead, and if he shows enough, especially in Revis' return to New York, the jobcan remain his after Sanchez' return.
"We dont like to pay attention to jersey numbers or who a guy is, but, at the same time, you got to be mindful of it. So Ill be watching for number 24 out there, Darrelle, [and] Ill be watching for the safety (Goldson)."
When asked if he'd try to test Revis, whowillsee action for the first time sincea season-ending knee injury last year,Smith said he doesn't see why not. There is some hesitation, however.
"You've got to respect a guy like Darrelle. Hes known for shutting guys down...If a guys open, no matter who its on, he needs to get the ball. But Im definitely going to be focused and paying attention to where he lines up because he can be a game-changer. He is a game-changer who can take away one side of the field.
Just how much of a game-changer? In 2011, his last full season, Revis had 21 pass breakups and four interceptions. In 2009, 31 pass breakups and six interceptions. Tack on one of the league's premier cover safeties in the league, and Smith could be in for a challenge.
"Hes not a guy that you want to test. Plays are tight because he can make plays on the ball that your average DB cant."
Smith was quite the game-changer himself in college, finishing with 98 career touchdowns and throwing for 11,662 yards, shattering all sorts of quarterbacking records at West Virginia.
But he saw what an opportunistic defense can do at the next level when he was sacked three times and took a safety in the third preseason game against the Giants. He's working hard tocorrect those mistakes now so he'll be better for when it really counts Sunday.
"There is a challenge there, but every single challenge that Im faced with Ill just take head on," said Smith. "Thats what Ive tried to do with this thing. So far its been good to me...Ive been progressing, Ive been steadily getting better, and Im going to continue to grow and get better as a player."