Willie Colon: Jets need QB Geno Smith 'to be on top of his game'

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Guard Willie Colon, one of the veteran leaders on the New York Jets, delivered a not-so-subtle message Tuesday to quarterback Geno Smith: Don't screw up, kid.

"We bought the Porsche, we've given him the keys, he can't crash it," Colon said in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio. "Bottom line, he can't crash it. We need him to be on top of his game. We're doing everything we can as an offensive line to make him comfortable back there."

Instead of replacing Smith in the offseason, the Jets' new regime tried to improve his supporting cast. The biggest move was trading for former Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. It doesn't put them in the category of an elite sports car -- after all, they finished 28th in scoring -- but it will be their most talented group of skill-position players since Smith arrived in 2013.

After watching Smith endure two seasons of sometimes severe growing pains, Colon expects to see a more mature quarterback in 2015.

"Geno's career right now is extremely turbulent," Colon said. "He was never ready to be the starting quarterback of the New York Jets. When Mark (Sanchez) went down (in 2013), he was thrown into the fire and he was forced to cook.

"Everybody knows in this league, to be a quarterback, which is the No. 1 position on the field, it's a maturation period you have to go through," he said. "It takes the mental, the physical and everything that goes along with it to be the best or even be in the top 10, if you will.

"Now Geno, with that said, has made his mistakes. He said some things where you look at him like, 'What are you talking about?' But I think that's all about his maturation period."

The Jets are coming off a 4-12 season, but they were one of the most active teams in the offseason. They have a new coach, Todd Bowles, and confidence is high. The big question is Smith, who is only 11-18 as a starter with 34 interceptions.

Nevertheless, Smith is the presumptive starter. He will go into training camp as the No. 1 quarterback and will receive the majority of the first-team reps. Bowles said last week it's "his job to lose." The backup is journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, whom the Jets acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans.

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