It is almost impossible to miss, no matter where you look former West Virginia University quarterback Geno Smith is in the news. Someone somewhere has another camera pointed his way and a microphone in his face.
Geno may not see a heavier blitz package from any of the teams the Jets will face this season. Then again, it is the Jets and he is a rookie quarterback.
As is the case when facing a blitz, Geno has not always done an admirable job handling the pressure. Geno’s time at WVU did not prepare him for the pressure the New York media is applying, and it is showing in the way he is handling all that media attention.
From the amount of press Geno is getting it’s hard to believe he was the third player drafted by the New York Jets in the recent draft. The Jets picked two players ahead of Geno, Dee Milliner from Alabama and Sheldon Richardson from Missouri. Neither is receiving the amount of attention that Geno is shouldering.
Geno was the first player selected to play on the offensive side of the ball for the Jets. It is easy to see that Geno’s mandate is to improve their passing offense. The Jets ranked 30th in passing yards last season in a 32-team league.
Unfortunately, the offensive line and receivers that are so important to the success of a passing offense are in need of upgrades too. The Jets did draft two offensive tackles with their next two picks after Geno, Brian Winters from Kent State and Oday Aboushi from Virginia.
It is worth mentioning that the Jets did sign free agent running back Chris Ivory on draft day. Ivory is considered a major upgrade at running back, and a solid running game is certainly a friend to any quarterback.
To make matters worse for the Jets, the soul of last year’s team was the defense, and the heart of that defense was corner-back Darrelle Revis. The Same Darrelle Revis that will be wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneer uniform in the Jets opening game.
Revis is one of the top corner-backs in the NFL, if not the top corner-back His departure from the Jets was less than cordial, much less. Many believe the addition of Revis will be the deciding piece to the playoff puzzle for Tampa Bay.
Revis wants that opening day win against the Jets, badly. He might be saying all the right things in interviews, that is just the veteran NFL player that is Darrelle Revis. The Jets do not have a receiver on their roster that can beat Revis for an entire game. As Schiamo said in the link provided, a 90% Revis is still better than most NFL corner-backs
The Jets started a rebuilding process with their picks in this year’s draft, an effort that is likely to take at least one more draft, maybe two, before it is complete. There is no doubt that Geno is a large part of the Jets’ plans in that rebuilding process.
As a Geno Smith fan, and a lifelong Mountaineer fan, I hope that Geno loses the battle to win the starting job for the Jets this off-season. The Jets simply do not have all of the players on offense that would allow their starting quarterback to succeed in the NFL.
Remember, NFL stands for “Not For Long”. I want Geno’s “Not For Long” to be as long as possible, losing the battle to be the starter this year is actually a step in the right direction to that goal.
There is another former Mountaineer still working to make a name for himself as a pro, Kevin Jones or KJ as he is known to most of Mountaineer Nation.
KJ spent a lot of time driving from Cleveland to Canton to play for the Charge, the Cavaliers’ Developmental League team last year. KJ averaged over 39 minutes, 24-points, and nine rebounds in eight games for the Charge last season.
As a Cavalier, KJ played consistently in the final five games of the season and averaged 16 minutes, just under eight points, and five rebounds per game. The down side to those statistics, Cleveland lost all five of those games.
KJ impressed his head coach with the Cavaliers last season with his hustle, defense, rebounding, and work ethic.
Unfortunately for KJ, the coach he impressed is no longer working in Cleveland for the Cavaliers. Byron Scott was fired at seasons end and replaced by Mike Brown. The same Mike Brown that was fired and replaced by Byron Scott.
The Cavs are entering year number four in the post-Lebron James era and are still rebuilding.
The good news for KJ is he’s still under contract with the Cavs, one of only nine players under contract for the coming season. The bad news is that contract is not guaranteed. Still, if there were ever an NBA head coach that put an emphasis on hustle, defense, work ethic, and rebounding, it is Mike Brown.
The Cavs own the number one pick in the coming NBA draft. They also have another first round pick at number 19 and two second round selections at 31 and 33. Plus, depending on the web site reporting the Cavs are between $18/20-million under the NBA cap.
With the amount of transition going on in Cleveland it would be easy for a player to get lost in the shuffle and fall through the cracks. Do not look for that to happen to KJ, from all appearances Cavs General Manager Chris Grant is aware of KJ and what he represents to his roster.
To date the ongoing rebuilding job that Grant has masterminded is all about developing young players. KJ’s cap hit for the coming season is small by NBA standards, $788,872. Small enough that Grant could easily keep KJ on the roster and use him the same way he used him last season, KJ isn’t too overpriced to play in Canton or keep on the Cavs roster for insurance.
The more fans of the Cavs get to see KJ’s work ethic, hustle, defense, and rebounding ability the more popular he will become. Anderson Varejao has made a great living in Cleveland on those same attributes and remains a fan favorite even though he has missed major parts of the last three season due to injury.
At the beginning of last season the players on the Cavs roster that appeared to stand in KJ’s way are all gone. Samardo Samuels, and Luke Harangody are no longer on the Cavs roster. For now, and the foreseeable future, KJ remains a Cav.
What KJ brings to the Cavs roster that many others do not is fundamentals. Ironically, fundamental basketball skills are not as prevalent in the NBA as would be expected. Precisely why when a player possesses those fundamental skills there is always a roster spot available.
KJ may never make an NBA all-star team, the more he plays the more he will become a fan favorite in Cleveland. Just as he was in Morgantown.
I have a hunch he already has some of the most important Cleveland fans of all, the Cavs front office and coaching staff.