What we learned Thursday: Geno Smith not ready
- By Chris Wesseling
- Around the League Writer
- Published: Sept. 13, 2013 at 01:08 a.m.
- Updated: Sept. 13, 2013 at 08:49 a.m.
"The young man had his moments tonight."
That was coach Rex Ryan's assessment of rookie quarterback Geno Smith's second career start, a 13-10 New York Jets loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday night.
A more fitting assessment was the one offered by Around The League's resident Jets acolyte, Dan Hanzus:
Smith looked composed at times, made a series of strong throws and was victimized by six drops. The Jets actually outgained the Patriots 318 to 232 in net yards.
On the other hand, Smith burned two timeouts, held the ball too long against a mostly feckless Patriots pass rush, didn't sense pressure on his four sacks, struggled to process his reads, was too reluctant to tuck and run and was erratic with his ball placement.
For all of those woes, the Jets still found themselves down just three points entering the fourth quarter.
That's when the implosion occurred. Smith carelessly tossed three interceptions in the final 11 minutes. The first cost his team a shot at a game-tying field goal. The next two prevented a comeback as the Patriots practically begged the rookie to beat them on an off night.
The kid's not ready. He's just going to have to learn on the job, with a few "moments" mixed in among the foibles.
Here's what else we learned from Thursday's game.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin laid an egg last week, thanks to a ferocious Jets defensive line featuring Damon "Snacks" Harrison, Muhammad Wilkerson and first-round draft pick Sheldon Richardson. That trio did the same to Stevan Ridley on Thursday night. NFL offenses will soon learn the futility of beating their heads against that brick wall all afternoon.
2. The wide receivers for both teams struggled with drops throughout the game. Patriots rookie Aaron Dobson, in particular, had a rough night, dropping passes and appearing to raise Tom Brady's ire by blowing a potential touchdown with the wrong end-zone route.
3. "Making the Leap" candidate Julian Edelman established an NFL record for fewest yards (78) by a wide receiver on 13-plus receptions. His 20 catches through two games are just one shy of his 2012 total. In a telling statistic, Brady was 13 of 18 (72.2 percent) on passes to Edelman and 6 of 21 (28.6 percent) to all other targets.
4. It was telling that the Patriots twice settled for a run on third-and-long and opted to kill the clock late in the game instead of trying for a field goal. That timidity said as much about the offense's lack of firepower as it did about the confidence that Smith couldn't beat them. This was Brady's first game with a completion percentage under 50.0 since 2009.
5. Bilal Powell remains the Jets' primary running back in passing situations, but he was outplayed by Chris Ivory on the ground. Ivory finally is regaining his 2012 form after a rough showing in preseason and Week 1.
6. The Patriots are now 43-0 under Bill Belichick when they win the turnover battle by three or more. The Pats punted more times (11) Thursday night than they had in any game over the past decade.
7. If there was a positive takeaway for the Jets on offense, it was that left guard Vlad Ducasse -- heretofore regarded as a second-round draft bust -- handled Patriots Pro Bowl defensive tackle Vince Wilfork with aplomb.
8. Wilkerson was carted off with a foot injury late in the fourth quarter. The team is awaiting results of X-rays taken after the game. Ryan isn't sure if the injury is a high ankle sprain. If Wilkerson is out long term, it would be a huge loss for the Jets. He and Antonio Cromartie were the team's defensive MVPs last season.