Rex Ryan readily admits Geno Smith didn’t have much success as a mobile quarterback at West Virginia. But the Jets coach can still envision his second-round pick being used like Colin Kaepernick on the football field.
Ryan said Wednesday that if incumbent Mark Sanchez is named the starter, there’s "a possibility" the Jets could employ a read-option package for Smith.
“I know what everybody’s thinking…‘Oh didn’t we try that last year?’” Ryan said, referencing the failed Tim Tebow experiment last season. “But certainly, that’s a possibility. But to make assumptions now probably isn’t the thing to do. We’ll let this thing pan out and we’ll see. …We never knew a whole lot about Kaepernick. And then when he came in there (in Week 4), they started springing that stuff on you. And that was like, ‘Oh, OK.’ He made some huge runs in that game against us. We’ll see. I think the league now – I know we’re looking at it -- you have to be ready for it. It’s something that’s here. And I’m not sure it’s going away.”
Kaepernick, who then was Alex Smith’s backup, rushed five times for 50 yards (including a 30-yard gain) in the 49ers’ 34-0 win over the Jets last September.
It was the type of Wildcat performance Jets fans had come to expect from Tebow – but that never happened. But while Tebow failed to generate offense in his limited off-the-bench role, Ryan believes Smith has the potential to be that type of weapon.
“I think he’s got the athleticism to do that,” said the coach. “(West Virginia) really didn’t run a whole lot of zone reads and different things. But he has the skill-set to where there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to do that. Now, with that being said, I think you have to be smart with what you ask your quarterbacks to do, or you’re going to need to have a whole bunch of them. And I think that’s the way people are going to start attacking these quarterbacks.
“But again, running for first downs and touchdowns, I think is how the league is probably going to progress.”
Both Sanchez and Smith have been alternating with the starters, and Ryan said Smith will take the “majority” of first-team reps Wednesday – an indication that there isn’t a clear favorite in the QB race. At least not yet.
Regardless of which quarterback starts this season, Ryan said his wide receivers need to start catching the football.
“We’ve got to get that figured out,” he said of the countless dropped passes on Day 1 of mandatory minicamp. “You’re an NFL player. Catch the football. You’re paid to catch the football. …Yesterday, I was surprised when we caught the ball.”
The coach again stressed the importance of his offense sharing an attack-style mentality like his defense.
“We have to have the mindset that wherever you put the ball down, we’re going to take it down the field and score points,” he said. “And whether that means running the football, throwing it, running option, whatever it is. I think that has to be the mindset that we’re taking.”
It remains to be seen how Kellen Winslow’s body will respond on Day 2, but it seems the tight end is already impressing the coaching staff on his tryout.
“Having that kind of weapon...He’s such an athlete,” said Ryan. “Kellen’s never been a hired killer as a blocker, but he tries. But as an athlete and a receiver, whoo!”
As for wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker? Not so much.
“He never jumped out at me the way Kellen did,” said Ryan.
Ryan, who spent the morning in meetings, said he’s unsure if running back Mike Goodson will practice today following his court appearance Wednesday morning. The Jets coach also said the offense could use more two-back sets this season, with Chris Ivory, Goodson and Bilal Powell in the mix.
“The thing that jumps out at you is his speed and acceleration. It's unusual at that position,” said Ryan, adding that Goodson has Reggie Bush-type explosion.
The Jets installed some no-huddle looks on Day 1 of mandatory minicamp. Ryan said the youngsters were blowing “fuses all over the place.”