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For Geno Smith, It's Confidence All Around

Posted Aug 24, 2014

Kerley Says Jets QB's 'Composure Under Pressure Is Definitely Showing Off This Year'

Geno Smith, named the Jets' starting quarterback for the Sept. 7 season opener by head coach Rex Ryan on Friday night, said today he never lost confidence in himself after a rocky start to his rookie campaign that included 25 individual turnovers.

“I think my confidence has always been high. The biggest thing for me is there’s more confidence in what I'm doing on the field, having confidence in my decision-making,” Smith said on a conference call with reporters this afternoon. “Everybody knows, as a quarterback, that when you second-guess your decision-making, nine times out of 10 you’re wrong. I found myself second-guessing myself last year for a lot of reasons and it wasn’t because I didn’t feel I could play.”

His positive attitude and determination helped propel him to a 3-1 finish during which he produced seven touchdowns (four passing, three rushing) to only two interceptions. He said the rest of the team has responded to him because of his ability to make plays.

WR Jeremy Kerley said Geno’s confidence has turned him into a leader in the locker room after he put in the work to know the offensive system better than any other player. That knowledge, Kerley said, has made him more poised under center.

“His composure under pressure is definitely showing off this year and he’s showing he’s not rattled in pressure situations,” said Kerley about Smith, who led five game-winning drives in 2013. “His learning ability is taking over. He’s definitely picking up on things quicker and he’s been the most vocal guy out there, getting guys lined up and getting guys in the right position.”

Geno’s heightened confidence is apparent to defensive players, too. Veteran LB Calvin Pace said the offense’s quick starts have been indicative of the quarterback's improvements.

“To me, everything he’s done, he’s confident doing it,” Pace said. “He’s real confident moving the ball and I think that confidence has helped the offense start these games fast and get the ball moving.”

He’s even shown Jets newcomers his “swagger,” as RB Chris Johnson put it, after the Jets' 35-24 loss to the Giants on Friday night. Johnson, playing for Tennessee last year, saw one of the lows of Geno’s rookie campaign, the 38-13 loss in which Smith threw two interceptions and fumbled two balls, one of which was recovered in the end zone for a Titans touchdown.

“I can tell he is a lot different from how he walks into the huddle. He knows what he’s doing this year. He came in as a rookie and was thrown into the fire,” Johnson said. “This playbook is very, very hard. So it’s hard to come in as a rookie quarterback and learn this offense and be successful. But just by his hard work, being here in the offseason, spending those extra hours learning this playbook, you can tell he’s more comfortable this year.”

That comfort level has shown as Geno has shined this preseason, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes (23-of-33) and turning the ball over just once on his 15 possessions and 73 snaps.

 For the team to have confidence in him, Geno said, is a sign that he’s doing his job: making plays.

“You can only inspire the guys and be that leader if you’re on top of your game and you know what you’re doing,” he said. “I appreciate the fact that they’ve stuck with me and they’ve always been confident in me because they’ve seen the way I can bounce back from a tough game. But the main thing for us now is to continue to build on that confidence and become sharper as an offense.”





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