Brandon Marshall believes Geno Smith has a future in the NFL but still has a lot to learn and should follow Ryan Fitzpatrick’s example.
The veteran Jets wide receiver, appearing Tuesday morning on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” show from San Francisco, just finished his first season in New York and had a chance to evaluate Smith.
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“This was the toughest year I’ve had,” said Marshall, who had 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns. “It was just a grind. I love playing football. It’s never work for me. But I’m at the point in my career where I just want to win. And coming in I felt like we were behind the 8-ball because we have so many new pieces. Coming in we had Geno and he wasn’t established yet. So I knew he was a quarterback who could get the job done, but it was a big question mark.”
Smith played in 30 games as the Jets quarterback in his first two seasons but lost his starting job to Fitzpatrick after former teammate IK Enemkpali broke his jaw during a training-camp fight. Fitzpatrick went on to have the best season of his career, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,905 yards and franchise-record 31 touchdowns as the Jets went 10-6 and narrowly missed the playoffs.
After Fitzpatrick injured his thumb minutes into the Jets’ 34-20 loss in Oakland on Nov. 1, Smith was called on and completed 27 of 42 pass for 265 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. That was Smith’s only game action of the season. Marshall said he believed it was good for Smith to learn the business and how things work this season, which Marshall said Smith never had a chance to do since he started as a rookie in 2013.
“The kid is really talented,” said Marshall, who will be part of CBS’ Super Bowl 50 pregame show on Sunday. “I’m glad that he had the opportunity to really sit back and learn from a pro.”
Fitzpatrick, 33, will play in his 11th season in 2016. He is a free agent, but the Jets have made it a big priority to re-sign the veteran.
Marshall made it clear that Fitzpatrick is the Jets’ quarterback.
“If [Smith] can learn from Fitzpatrick, I think he’ll be fine,” Marshall said. “But as of right now, it’s Ryan’s team.”
Marshall also offered some advice to Smith.
“I tell him all the time, when you walk into the building you have a notebook,” Marshall said. “One is our week’s plan, our game plan, the team we’re facing. Number two is a Ryan Fitzpatrick notebook. You need to be writing down every single thing that this guy is doing on and off the field. How he’s leading guys, the time he shows up to work, how’s he preparing in the weight room and the meeting room because if he does that, there’s no doubt in my mind that this kid can play in this game and at a high level because he’s very talented.”
Smith said last month as the Jets cleared out their lockers that he still believes he has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL and that he’s not content to be a backup.
Marshall, however, said Smith needs to prepare for whatever chance he gets.
“When he gets his opportunity, he needs to be ready,” Marshall said. “Wherever it is.”