As Jets quarterback Geno Smith prepares for his first series of NFL practice sessions at the team’s rookie minicamp, one of the guys who presided over the offensive practices at Smith’s most recent stop is defending Smith from criticism.
“I never got the sense he was a diva or pampered or anything in my involvement with him,” West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson told Brian Costello of the New York Post. “I never had one problem with him other than he watched too much film.”
Before the draft, Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly skewered Smith. After the draft, Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com published critical quotes from anonymous sources regarding Smith.
“He’s going to play for a long time,” Dawson said this week. “I think the Jets are going to be more than happy that they have him. He’s going to work his [butt] off. It’s almost a positive for the Jets organization because if everything would have went smooth and he had been picked in the top five he probably wouldn’t be as motivated as he is right now.
“In my talks with him after the draft, he’s so fired up right now to prove this [jerk] wrong that he’s going to work and do it.”
Compounding Smith’s problems is that his camp didn’t launch an aggressive counterattack in response to Nawrocki’s scathing scouting report. And with Smith firing his agents only days after the draft, he had no one in place to attempt to change the narrative and alter the perception arising from the Yahoo! Sports and ESPN reports.
Perception in this context is key. His reported plan to leave the draft (ESPN reported it, Smith has denied it) after the first night fueled the perception that he can’t handle adversity, for those who already believed that. His decision to fire his agents in the wake of the draft fueled the perception that he’s inclined to externalize blame.
In fact, we’ve (I’ve) been criticized, primarily by those who tend to look for reasons to criticize us (me), for pointing out the connection between Smith’s reported plan to leave the draft and the reaction from those who already have a dim view of him.
It’s a reasonable at worst, dead-on 100-percent accurate at best interpretation of the impact of the behavior on the opinions of those who believe the negative things reported about Smith. Those who think I’m biased against Smith, who played college football at West Virginia University, apparently aren’t aware of my Mountaineer connection. (I grew up in West Virginia, went to law school in Morgantown, live 30 miles from the school, and attended every home football game that I can.)
What I wrote about Smith after the first round of the draft contained the same advice I would have given Smith if he were my client, friend, cousin, nephew, or son.
Good advice is what he and every young player (and every young person) needs. Here’s hoping that Geno Smith gets it from everyone around him, and that he heeds it.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!