As we learned last night, it is truly over for Mark Sanchez in New York. He likely has a labrum injury, which will probably require surgery, ending his season and almost assuring he has played his last game in a Jets uniform.
The Jets and their fans will now look to Geno Smith, the possible future of the franchise, to live up to his predecessor’s accomplishments and out-do them. The first chance he has is to not only beat the Patriots his first time out, but do it in New England.
Winning in New England is tough for any QB, let alone a rookie. Only two quarterbacks have gone into New England in their first years as starters and won in the Tom Brady era – Chad Pennington in 2002 and Colin Kaepernick in 2012. No true rookie quarterback has ever accomplished this feat.
So Geno Smith will have to make a little history, but he has a little recent history on his side.
You only have to look back to the rookie year of “The Sanchize” to see a rookie beat the Patriots in his 2nd career game. Sanchez was coming off a similar game to Smith’s first (272 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) against a similar strengthened defense. Sanchez would run off three consecutive wins before succumbing to the New Orleans Saints in Week 4.
Before Geno can get that far, he will have to go through Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Patriots.
That said, it is a wonder to think what other offensive weapons will be available other than Tom Brady when the Pats take the field Thursday night.
Aaron Hernandez is long gone, Rob Gronkowski is still working his way back, Danny Amendola is hurt again, and Shane Vereen just went on the revokable injured reserve list.
The Patriots will have to go back to Stevan Ridley, who fumbled himself out of the running back rotation last week, and a bunch of lesser WRs and no names, led by long-time Patriot, Julian Edelman.
After struggling against the Bills, the Patriots have shown a bit of vulnerability. Will the Jets and their new QB be able to pounce?
While he had a good enough game to take down the woeful Buccaneers, it is a whole new ballgame with the Patriots for Geno. He will be taking on a coach that does not make many mistakes and a scheme that will be less forgivable if he takes too long to throw a pass.
He will have to rely on his legs again. With 5 successful scrambles, including one that led to a penalty and the game-winning kick, he will have to be quick to go flying through the turf if no receivers are open.
With an offensive line as inconsistent as the one the Jets have, Geno will have to be better on his toes. Manish Mehta reported that under pressure, Smith’s passing percentage dropped from 80.8% to 25%; his QB Rating fell from 116.5 to 4.9.
To help take some pressure off Smith, the running game will have to be going. Handicapped by facing 2012’s #1 run defense, and scheming full of formations that were spread to make Geno’s day easier, the combination of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell only mustered 44 yards on 22 attempts. If they are not better, the Patriots will be able to sit back and wait for Smith to make mistakes.
The chance is here for the Jets. All people have been asking for is to move on from the devastating 2012 season; that is here now. The past is gone and Geno Smith must prove he is the future. To be that QB everyone wants, he must pounce on opportunities like this and beat the prone Patriots.
The time for excuses is over. The time for progress, is now.