New York Jets' QB Geno Smith was voted the worst starting quarterback in the NFL by an ESPN survey, and he challenged that survey.
"The thing about it is, you have to climb up," Smith says. "If I'm No. 32, by this time next year or the year after, I expect to be in the top 5."
This is certainly a bold prediction, but it isn't as ridiculous as you think it is.
Smith showed flashes of brilliance in 2013. His best game of the year came in Week 5 against Atlanta. Smith threw 16 completions on 20 attempts, 3 TDs and 0 INTs in a 30-28 victory where he led New York on a game-winning drive in the last two minutes.
Smith also ended the 2013 season on a high note. He led the Jets to win 3 of their last 4 games. He threw 4 TDs and 2 INTs, but more importantly he recorded 3 of his 6 rushing touchdowns in those last 4 games. It took awhile, but Smith was finally able to unleash his ground game.
Despite these victorious moments, 2013 altogether was a struggle for Smith. He finished 34th of 39 QBs in Total QBR and threw 21 INTs, fourth-most in the NFL. This never discouraged Smith however. It only motivated him.
Two weeks after the 2013 season ended, Smith went to IMG Academy, the same place he trained for the 2013 NFL Combine. Smith studied film of the defenses he will face in 2014. He trained both physically and mentally, a personal training session that impressed Jets' coach Rex Ryan.
"That's the thing about being a quarterback: You got to be a gym rat and have that mentality. And he's put in the physical work, too, changing his body. He's gotten stronger, cut down the body fat. He wanted to be a better football player, and he attacked it," Ryan said.
Smith has been impressive in training camp so far. Jets' receiver David Nelson said, "I think Geno looked better than I’ve ever seen him. Just the small stuff. He’s making audibles at the line of scrimmage, which even Week 13, 14 he wasn’t doing. I see the way he has ownership and command over the offense."
With the acquisitions of RB Chris Johnson and WR Eric Decker, the Jets have a multi-dimensional offense that allows Smith to become even more effective both throwing and running the ball.
Smith made clear developments toward the end of 2013, and he worked hard in the offseason to improve. The results are now showing in training camp, and Jets fans should be excited about Smith's future.
Geno Smith is not even close to being a top 5 QB. But if he continues to work hard and improve, Smtih has the talent to become a top 5 QB in a few years.