FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - You won't find much support for embattled quarterback Geno Smith outside the friendly confines of the Jets' training facility. There's at least one NFL expert, however, who believes Smith is ready to have a big season that will go a long way toward casting aside doubts about his ability as a quarterback.
"I see him winning the job and having a good year," said former NFL quarterback Shaun King, now an NFL analyst for Yahoo Sports. "He's shown that he has the skill set to play at a high level, and now that the Jets have put some good players around him, I think that will help. If he was really bad and was surrounded by elite personnel, then fine. But name one significant skill player he had."
King isn't ignoring all the mistakes Smith made during his first two seasons. There were a ton of miscues, including 34 interceptions and eight lost fumbles. But the former Buccaneers starter refuses to overlook the bright spots.
"When he was bad, he was really bad," King said. "But when he was good, he was really good. Look at the last games of both seasons . The Atlanta game [as a rookie]. He played well against the Patriots. He showed enough as a young quarterback where if you could get better around him, he would benefit. But when you have the worst supporting cast in the entire league, it's tough to win."
King identifies with Smith's early career track, which is somewhat similar to his own with the Buccaneers. He took over late in the season as a rookie in 1999 and helped the Bucs reach the NFC Championship Game against the Rams. He started the entire 2000 season, and the Bucs went 10-6 to reach the playoffs again, losing to the Eagles in the wild-card round. The following season, the Bucs gave up on King and acquired Brad Johnson, who helped the team win the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.
"It's tough for a young quarterback in this league," King said. "When do you get to fail? When do you get to mess up for three or four games and learn from it? Andrew Luck [of the Colts] is a rare bird who hit the ground running as a rookie and played like a Pro Bowler. He's like American Pharoah. There are some good 3-year-old horses, but rarely is there an all-time great one like Luck.