Jon Gruden acknowledged that he is "accused of liking everybody," but on Tuesday the ESPN analyst confirmed that Jets quarterback Geno Smith remains on that list.
"I do like Geno Smith," Gruden said after hosting a panel discussion at a Manhattan event to announce a partnership between Dick's Sporting Goods' "Sports Matter" program and DonorsChoose.org to fund youth programs facing budget shortfalls.
"I think he's been in a tough situation. When he came out of West Virginia I spent a lot of time with him in a no-huddle offense. This was a real culture shock, I'm sure, becoming an NFL quarterback. He gets thrown in there as a starter on a team with not a lot of resources.
"I don't remember them having Pro Bowl running backs or Pro Bowl receivers. Now they have a new offensive coordinator. So it's been a challenge for him. But I've seen progress. I've seen some quality play. I've seen some inconsistent play. He's got to eliminate the turnovers and the things that are well-documented. But he's experienced, he's athletic, he's had some success. Not a lot of people know that."
But Smith's resources have changed a bit.
"And now I think they've got some resources," Gruden said. "You've got Brandon Marshall. You've got [Eric] Decker now. You've got some running backs now. You have a coordinator, Chan Gailey, who's had success making first downs with any kind of quarterback. So I like where he is.
"I think he's got a real good resource in [Ryan] Fitzpatrick, who's been a starter for about 12 different teams, to advise him and help him along the way. That's the key. Tom Brady can't play forever. Peyton and Eli [Manning] aren't going to be here forever. There's going to be a nucleus of quarterbacks that have to take the torch and I kind of like the progress I've seen, although it's painful at times to watch."