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Joe Namath says Geno Smith has 'earned' starting QB job

Hall of Famer Joe Namath walks on the

Hall of Famer Joe Namath walks on the field before the start of Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (Credit: EPA / Tannen Maury)

Joe Namath made headlines Tuesday night when he declared Michael Vick was a better quarterback than Geno Smith right now.

The Jets' great didn't necessarily back down from his claim during a Sirius radio interview Thursday afternoon, but he did sing Smith's praises. Namath also noted that the second-year QB has "earned" the starting job and shouldn't be looking over his shoulder this season.

Here's a transcript of his on-air interview, courtesy of SiriusXM NFL Radio:

Joe Namath: “I’ve said it simply as directly as I possibly could say it. If Vick is healthy I think he is the better quarterback of the two at this stage. Now, I don’t know if Michael is healthy, I don’t know if he is durable enough to be able to last.  I don’t know what the Jets are looking for out of Vick. And when it comes to Geno Smith, he looks alright, he looks pretty good at times. I don’t see any outstanding special traits as far as running, quickness or throwing the ball. He’s definitely going to improve, has room to improve his accuracy and he’s aware of that, too. But I think the competition, it’s going to be how the Jets handle it. I don’t know how Geno Smith’s mind works. That’s an element of the game we spectators, so to speak, without sitting in the meetings, without analyzing the plays, without the anticipation factor knowing how the quarterback should handle something when he sees it, or after he sees it, we don’t know what Geno is thinking. Marty Mornhinweg seems to like him and it remains to be seen how Geno will develop.  Now [Tajh] Boyd very well might be a sharp guy and if he gets his foot in the door he might stay there. Who knows?”

Namath: “I think Geno did beautifully last year considering where he’d come from.  I don’t think he was ever under center at West Virginia, adjusting to being under center from time to time, and then learning a new offense as a rookie. And also competition is so keen out there. I think Geno did very well last year. He had some off games of course, some off plays, but, man, every player does. And the guy who is handling the ball, of course, he’s being evaluated more easily than some other players. But I look for Geno to improve, to be more relaxed. I’m just guessing at this, as a rookie, we can wanna talk about being cool and all that stuff before these games and approaching games, but, man, it’s the big leagues. And how you handle the nervous system is important. I would think Geno’s handling his nervous system better these days, utilizing the nerves to turn it into a positive side as opposed to a distraction. And hopefully he gets better. I want to see him improve his passing accuracy like we quarterbacks all try to do.”

Namath: “I think, personally, the nervous system is disrupted with lack of knowledge, lack of confidence, lack of grasping the plan, not knowing exactly what you want to do, having doubts about what you want to do out on the field, or doubts about the defenses you see, what to do with them, or doubts about your offense. I don’t think Geno’s worried about Michael Vick beating him out. I think Geno is confident and believes at this stage that he is the starter and that Michael was brought in as an ace in the hole because of injuries. I think the Jets want Geno Smith to start and I don’t think he’s going to be looking over his shoulder, I really don’t. I don’t think he has to look over his shoulder. He’s earned the starting position. To have it taken away, it could be depending on the preseason play if it is really bad. But I don’t think Geno should be nervous about losing his job. If he’s going to be nervous about something it would be about not having the mental grasp of what needs to be done ahead of time, during and after a given play.” 

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