Throughout QB Geno Smith's first four NFL games, we've learned a lot about the second-round rookie.
He's displayed a strong arm and an ability to hit a receiver in stride deep down the field. He's shown his getaway speed in escaping pressure and taking off for positive yards. He's demonstrated courage, too, stepping up in the pocket and making a throw knowing full-well he's about to receive a crushing blow from a blitzing defender.
We've learned that he has the tools to succeed as a starting quarterback in the NFL. But with 11 turnovers heading into Week 5, we also know that it's time for the rookie mistakes to cease.
"They have to stop now," Smith said of the giveaways. "My job is to manage the football game and to take what the defense gives me. When it's there, I've got to be confident enough to take it, but I've also got to be smart enough to know when it's not there and pull it down."
With his seventh and eights picks vs. the Titans, Smith's now averaging an even 2.0 interceptions per game through the season's first quarter.
"Both of them were tight windows, tight throws," he said, "and all I can say from that is I need to have better ball placement if I'm going to make those throws. Otherwise, don't even try it, don't even attempt it. Try to take a safe play, maybe check it down or go somewhere else with the ball, but not turn it over."
He has to do a better job of keeping two hands on the football until the moment he's ready to throw, he added, as he lost two fumbles in the game as well.
"I think I've been reckless with the ball at times," he said. "I think I may have tried to do too much when there was little there. It's just something I've got to get better at mechanically, physically and even mentally."
Only one whole *team *has turned the ball over more than Smith has individually.
Give Geno credit, though. Feeling like he owed the defense an apology, he addressed several players in the locker room following the 38-13 loss in Nashville.
"They've bailed us out time and time again so far, but whenever you turn it over that many times, it's hard for those guys to go out there and do their job when it's a short field," he said. "I just wanted to talk to those guys and let them know that I was aware of my mistakes and I wanted to clean them up and I will clean them up."
Strong arm, speed, courage, and now leadership.
Unfortunately, those attributes don't do too much for a player when a heavy dose of turnovers are entered into the equation. He seems to get it, though.
He's talked the talk, but now he'll have to walk the walk and prove it under the lights in a nationally televised primetime game next Monday night in Atlanta.
"I have a great defense here and we can rely on those guys," he said. "I have great guys up front, a great running game, and that's something as well that I can rely on, so as long as I take care of the ball, keep managing the game, and keep us in good situations, we'll have a chance."