While talking about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s ability last week, Jets coach Rex Ryan said that he’d “take their quarterback and we’ll see how many wins I’d have.”
It was clearly meant as a compliment for Brady as opposed to a slight of his own quarterback, something Geno Smith said he understood after the Jets beat the Patriots 30-27 in overtime. Smith said watching Brady play was like “poetry in motion,” but received another message beyond Ryan’s respect for Brady from the coach’s comment as well.
“But I was definitely motivated,” Smith said, via Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork.com. “You want to get to [Brady’s] level. You want to reach that status, but even Brady will tell you that it takes time, that you can’t do it all in one year. So I didn’t take it in a way that [Ryan] was saying it against me, or at me. I took it in a proper way, and as a competitor I used it as motivation.”
Smith threw an ugly interception early in the game that Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan returned for a touchdown, but he didn’t let it sink his game any more than he’s let bad performances one week carry into the next. Smith wound up 17-of-33 for 233 yards and both ran and threw for touchdowns on the way to the win. The Jets also converted 11-of-21 opportunities on third down, a huge factor in their victory over a Patriots team that converted just one of their 11 chances in the same situation.
Things may not go as well against the Bengals next week, which would be a reminder that Smith’s a rookie with much to learn at the NFL level. Sunday was a reminder that the student has a lot of the kind of innate ability that may wind up giving Ryan more years with the Jets to see how many wins he can pile up with Smith leading the offense.