Jets QB Smith shows poise when facing adversity

Associated Press

September 18, 2014

New York Jets' Geno Smith runs for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. The New York Jets had just seen a tying touchdown erased from the scoreboard by an ill-timed timeout call when Geno Smith and the offense huddled up again.

There was no whining about what could have been. No frustration from the quarterback, either.

The Jets still needed to convert a fourth-down play to give themselves a chance against the Green Bay Packers. The game was on the line, and Smith was as cool and calm as ever.

"He wasn't worried about that play," wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said Wednesday. "He was worried about the next play. That showed a lot of character on his part."

So, the second-year quarterback went right back to work and converted on fourth down again with a 6-yard pass to David Nelson on fourth-and-4 from the Packers 36. The drive was still alive, and so were the Jets.

"That right there was a really good test," Kerley said. "I think the big transformation between Geno from last year to this year is his poise. He has definitely shown to be, not necessarily a different guy, but his poise is definitely starting to show.

"That's one thing I pride him on and I think it's going to carry this team."

The Jets' drive stalled after that conversion and the Packers ran out the clock to hang on for a 31-24 victory. It was a frustrating end to a game in which the Jets held an 18-point lead at one point, but Smith had them in position to tie it in the final moments.

        

New York Jets' Geno Smith runs for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

Small consolation, as far as he is concerned.

"The fact that we went back out there and got the fourth down, that's a positive thing," Smith said. "We're still fighting, but we should've scored. My opinion, we should've scored. We should've went down on that drive and tied it up, but we didn't. Hats off to Green Bay, but that's over with.

"We've got the Bears coming up and we'll be ready for them."

It took a lot for Smith to get to that point, though. After the loss on the flight home, the next day reviewing film and the days before finally getting back on the field Wednesday the missed opportunities ate away at him.

"It took me until today's practice," he said. "I was (ticked) off for about two days, so today's practice allowed me to flush that out of my system and just get back to playing football."

Smith prides himself on being able to put mistakes and losses behind him quickly, pushing forward to the next challenge. This time, though, was different.

"We lost," he said. "Anytime you lose, I hate losing. That's really what happened. I was pretty upset about it."

He finished 16 of 32 for 176 yards, including a touchdown pass to Eric Decker, and also ran for a score. Smith also threw an interception that wasn't entirely his fault near the goal line before halftime, a wobbly toss that came as he was hit in his legs. He missed a few receivers who were wide open at times.

Smith remains a work in progress, a quarterback who flashes at times with terrific plays that make the Jets believe they might have something special.

There was a third-and-6 play in the third quarter when Smith spun out of what appeared to be a sure sack, found running back Bilal Powell open and flipped him the ball for a 20-yard gain. It led to a tying field goal, and was another example of a quarterback refusing to panic even when the pocket is collapsing around him.

"Last week, I learned that we're a pretty tough team," Smith said. "We're pretty disciplined. We went in on the road, had a bunch of silent counts, went no huddle and the communication was great. For the most part, we played a clean game, but just didn't come away with enough big plays to win the game.

"We're still growing."

Just like their quarterback. And after two games, there have been mistakes, of course. But Smith is showing he's in command as he continues to make progress.

"He just doesn't get rattled," Kerley said. "We all see that."

NOTES: Jets coach Rex Ryan dismissed the notion that WR Santonio Holmes, now with the Bears, was a divisive presence in the New York locker room. "I never thought he was a bad teammate," Ryan said. "I absolutely did not think that. I thought he played hard. He tried to mentor some of the younger receivers and the dude won a lot of games for us. He played well for us." ... With 18 penalties in two games, Muhammad Wilkerson getting ejected for fighting against the Packers and the timeout fiasco, some have wondered if the Jets are an undisciplined team. "No, not at all," Ryan insisted. "Has it been perfect? Absolutely not. And that's the thing that we talk about, trying to get better, and maybe there's other areas that we can get better at. Clearly we're going to go for it. We're trying to become an outstanding football team."