As tough as it might be for Jets fans to swallow, this season isn’t about just making the playoffs. The goal is still to try and win every game but if the team ends up in the postseason, that’s icing on the cake.
There’s a plan in place and it involves much more than making the playoffs as a Wild Card and exiting in the first round.
That’s why some of the talk about how the Jets would be better off if Mark Sanchez was starting at quarterback had he not been injured in the preseason is preposterous.
It’s only natural to wonder what could be if the offense stopped giving the ball away while the defense continues to play at such a high level.
But let’s not forget, Sanchez threw 18 or more interceptions in three of his four years with the Jets and has been nearly booed out of town on more than one occasion.
Geno Smith is a big part of the plans going forward. His growing pains are on full display every Sunday and it isn’t always easy to watch. He’s already thrown eight interceptions in four games but it doesn’t mean he’s incapable of handling the job.
Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, threw a whopping 28 interceptions during his rookie campaign. That’s not to say Smith will be anywhere near the player that Manning went on to become, but it goes to show what a struggle the learning process can be.
The Jets floated around the idea of using a “red-green-yellow” system to help take some of the burden off Smith but quickly shot it down. The color-coded wristband was last used when Sanchez was a rookie and illustrates how aggressive or cautious the quarterback should be on a given play.
Rather than filling Smith’s head with different colors, a much easier approach would be to run a more conservative offense.
Dialing back the playbook and simplifying things would go along way in cutting down on the mistakes. Smith’s offensive system in college was reliant on screen passes and short throws. Many of the interceptions Smith is throwing are coming as a result of learning to read NFL defenses while airing the ball out downfield.
The Jets are getting a surprising amount of production out of running back Bilal Powell and they should lean on him a bit more until Smith has a better grasp of the offense. Powell is also very adept in catching passes so getting him more involved in that aspect could help to add some variety and open things up a bit for Smith.
Having said that, if Smith is going to make mistakes, now is the time.
The team appears to have a bright future and it's far better that the interceptions come this season rather than when the team is in contention. If the mistakes continue to pile up and the Jets feel Smith isn't their guy, they're better off learning that sooner rather than later.
Patience is a lot to ask of from the fans. They spend a lot of money on tickets and merchandise and deserve the best bang for their buck.
But pining for the guy who you couldn't wait to get rid of isn't a plan. That's desperation.