After a slow news weekend for the NFL, the New York Jets made news today with rumors regarding their quarterback position. They haven't named a starter, and this has nothing to do with Jets West. Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com reported that the Jets are thinking about using rookie Geno Smith as a “change-of-pace quarterback”:
"The coaches are toying with the idea of turning Smith into what Tebow was supposed to be last season — a change-of-pace quarterback (assuming he doesn't win the starting job). Smith would have a package of plays, mainly read-option runs that could exploit his speed."
The issue with the news is that while Geno Smith had a fast 40 time at the combine, recorded at 4.59, Geno Smith was never a running quarterback in college. West Virginia was a zone-read team, but that started years ago with Rich Rodriguez, who is now two schools removed from West Virginia after his stint at Michigan ended and he took the Arizona job in 2012. Smith never even played under Rodriguez, instead, one of Rodriguez's assistants, Bill Stewart. Stewart was still running zone-read plays, but by his junior year Dana Holgerson, an Air Raid coach, had taken over. During his sophomore year, his first season starting and only season starting under Stewart's zone-read offense, Geno Smith ran 106 times for 217 yards. Over the next two seasons with Holgerson, he tallied up 122 rushes for 118 yards. In total, he ran for 342 yards in four years at West Virginia, three of them as a starter. The statistics are far from the thousands of yards Cam Newton, Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson. And Colin Kaepernick totaled in college, sometimes putting up over a thousand yards in a single season.
Rex Ryan teams seems to have a familiarity with the situation, though. This wouldn't be the first time Rex Ryan and co. have attempted to create a “change-of-pace” quarterback. The only season during Ryan's tenure that the Jets didn't have one was in 2011. During the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Brad Smith, a quarterback during his college days at Missouri, lined up as a “Wildcat” quarterback, but did vastly more running than passing. He totaled 56 rushing attempts for 506 yards and two touchdowns, but only threw four passes in those two seasons. In 2012, the Jets signed Tim Tebow who had 39 passing yards and 102 rushing yards for the year. Together, the two former-Jets combined for a 75% completion percentage (9 of 12) as change-of-pace passers.
Using the past as an example, it would not be surprising to imagine the staff playing Smith in certain situations. It wouldn't even be surprising to see him produce efficiently, as Smith and Tebow did in limited time. But everything is an “if” regarding the situation. Cimini stuck in that parenthetical, “assuming he doesn't win the starting job,” in the article, reminding everyone that nothing has been decided in Jets Land.