The most important offseason for any NFL player is the one between their first and second years in the league. To some extent every rookie is expected to struggle adjusting to the pro game, even top prospects. For example, in Peyton Manning’s rookie season he threw more interceptions than touchdowns and completed just 57 percent of his passes.
That’s good news for New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, who threw 21 picks to go with his 12 touchdowns and connected on just 56 percent of his passes during the 2013 season.
So, how will Smith improve this coming year? There’s a few indicators that we can use. Smith has been getting positive reviews from coaches and teammates through training camp, and Michael Vick says he will be ten times better. Of course training camp buzz is always rosey unless you’re having a truly awful camp.
I’ve always found that a reliable method is to look at how a player evolved during his college career. By that metric, we should expect a nice leap forward for Smith in 2014.
Here are Smith’s stats from West Virginia University, courtesy of ESPN:
What I like here is Smith made a jump each offseason, particularly when it came to efficiency. Each year his yards per completion went up as well as his quarterback rating. His touchdown total also escalated along with his passing attempts, but his interceptions remained steady from his sophomore through senior years.
That means that Smith knows how to make adjustments and work on the parts of his game that need to improve, which bodes well for the Jets.
Another positive sign was Smith seemed to settle in as last season wore on. After an atrocious three-game stretch against the Bills, Ravens and Dolphins something clicked for Smith – he was far more efficient both running and throwing the ball. Half of his rushing touchdowns came over the last four games and his touchdown to interception ratio did a 180 degree turn.
If Smith can play the way he did over those last four weeks in 2014 he should secure a long-term future for himself with the Jets.