After struggling on the road most of the season and looking like, well, a rookie, Smith looked calm, cool and collected as he picked apart the ‘Fins during our 20-7 victory Sunday afternoon.
He completed 17 of his 27 passes for 190 yards, he didn’t turn the ball over, and he kept the Miami defenders off balance with his 44 yards and a touchdown on the ground. His 83.9 passer rating was his second-best for a road game this season.
“I tell you, he just got better,” head coach Rex Ryan said following the game. “We knew it. We saw him getting better. But the way he’s protecting the football, the way he’s running, he carried our team on his back and that was awesome.”
Smith’s seven nominations are tied for the most by any rookie this season. San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell, Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson and New Orleans Saints WR Kenny Stills have also been nominated for this week’s award.
Fans have until 3 p.m. ET Friday to vote. If Geno takes home the hardware, he will tie Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy for the most Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Week award wins this season with two.
“It’s good for this team and good for this organization to end off on a good note,” Smith said. “Obviously we wanted to go to the playoffs and we had bigger goals in mind, but it means a lot to this team that we withstood all the negative talk and we just continued to work hard, we continued to get better and we had a really good showing in December.
“It taught me that if I don’t force things, if I take care of the ball and just be smart with the ball, we’ll always have a chance in the end with this defense. My confidence is always high, I believe in myself and I believe in my teammates and I just know that if we continue to work hard, we’ll have a shot.”