After nine games full of ups and downs,
“To touch on something in particular, just my timing and precision in my passes,” Smith told me on this week’s “Jets Talk LIVE” installment. “Kind of being a little bit more aggressive, taking what there’s for me, hitting at what I’m aiming at and just being sharper in my reads and my mechanics. As long as I continue to improve in every single area, I’ll be fine. But I think those things are things that I can definitely improve on quickly and help this team out.”
A 58% passer, Smith has accounted for 11 TDs (8 Pass + 3 Rush) while turning the ball over 16 times (13 INTs + 3 Fumbles). The West Virginia product became the only QB since the 1970 merger with four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his first seven games.
“I think it not only says to the guys in the locker room, but to the guys in the NFL that we have a never say die attitude. We’re going to play to the final whistle and that’s the way this team is set up right now,” he said. “We have a tremendous defense that keeps us in games, we have a ball control style offense and usually in the NFL in comes down to the last drive or two, so those few plays I pride myself on making. I know our offense prides itself on winning games in the clutch and so far we’ve been able to do so but it has to continue.”
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg owns an attack mentality and he has not gotten conservative with his play-calling just because Smith is in his first pro season.
“That’s what I think has attributed to my growth,” said Smith. “He didn’t hold any punches, he didn’t go out there and say, ‘He’s a rookie. Let’s baby him or let’s introduce him to the NFL before we throw everything at him.’ He let me go out and make my mistakes and he allowed me to grow. That experience that I gained — both good and bad — is ultimately what’s going to help me down the road.”
Smith has done a nice job with his feet not only in the pocket, but picking up yards down the field. He has 3 rush TDs, he is averaging 4.8 yards a carry and he is on pace to pick up more than 300 yards on the ground.
“Tucking the ball and running comes with decision making and I think it’s something I’ve gotten better with as well," he said. "I’m the type of guy who likes to stand there to the last second and make the throw, but just being aware of when guys are not open or when they dialed up a coverage where we really may not have a guy open on that play. Tucking it, running it and gaining two or three yards, maybe picking up a first down, continuing to have positive plays and I think that keeps us on schedule.”
The Jets' schedule has them on the road the next two weeks with trips to Buffalo and Baltimore on tap. With a 5-4 record, they would like to establish more consistency as a team. And their offense will be led by a young man intent on taking the next step.
"In order to be a great quarterback, ball placement is huge," he said. "So throwing guys open. If a guy is on his back, put it out there an inch in front of them to allow him to make a catch. I think that’s the next step in my growth. I think that’s something I have to continue to work on in practice and it starts with the fundamentals and just going through the normal motions of a throw and knowing where to place the ball and then having guys attack it and come down with the catch.”