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Geno Smith looking better in Jets' new offense

Jets quarterback Geno Smith talks to the media

Jets quarterback Geno Smith talks to the media at the Jets training facility in Florham Park, N.J. on Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The time is now for Geno Smith. And he knows it.

"I agree [it's a critical year for me]," he said Wednesday before the second day of the Jets' mandatory minicamp. "I believe that we all have to take the next step, we all have to raise our level of play and me, as the quarterback, my game has got to be on point every single week.

"I have to be on top of my game mentally and physically, so it's something that we all know. Having a good quarterback obviously has a direct correlation to winning in this league."

Smith rebounded in a big way on the practice field Wednesday after throwing three interceptions, including two in the red zone, Tuesday afternoon. He delivered crisp, strong passes on target with no interceptions. The highlight was his 70-yard touchdown pass to Walter Powell -- with Darrelle Revis defending.

"There are going to be up and down days. You try not to be too high and too low. You look at the body of work," coach Todd Bowles said. "So yesterday it wasn't so rough. Today the quarterbacks were decent. So we've just got to be consistent."

But Smith still is navigating the fine line between system newcomer and third-year signal-caller. Though Chan Gailey will tailor his offense to his personnel, there's still a learning curve for Smith, now in his second offensive system in three years.

"Well, you have to be patient for now," said new quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo, who spent three years on Gailey's offensive staff in Buffalo. "Yes, he's seen more [than a rookie quarterback], but it's still a new offense for him. So I don't know if the third year is necessarily 'the year,' but yeah, he should know more about what's happening out there."

And being a "game manager" isn't good enough for Bowles.

"You're not going to win this game just managing football games," he said. "There's a lot of winning game managers in this league that have won Super Bowls as well. But at the end of the day, you've still got to be able to throw the football."

Patullo praised Smith's athleticism and noted he throws the ball with "a lot" of velocity. "And I don't think a lot of people realize that," Patullo said.

Turnovers remain Smith's biggest issue. They're also one of Bowles' biggest pet peeves.

"Yeah, that's something I know, and I know that he knows that I know that," Smith said. "The better you can take care of the football with the defense we expect to have, we'll have a good shot."

Smith said he's picking up the offense "pretty well" but acknowledged there's room for improvement. He plans to spend his six-week break before training camp studying his playbook and conducting throwing sessions in Chicago with his tight ends and receivers, including Brandon Marshall.

And as he works toward becoming a better NFL quarterback, he's also learning to be a better leader.

"You can never be too good at it," Smith said. "Sometimes you're maybe afraid as a rookie or a young player to get on some of the older guys, but you can't be afraid to do that . . . Veterans like when you hold them accountable, so I just try my best to not rub guys the wrong way but do it in the right manner so that we all are held accountable."

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