Geno Smith ending the Jets’ playoff hopes would be soul-crushing

Joe Douglas didn’t draft Geno Smith.

Robert Saleh never coached him.

There’s not a single current Jets player who was Smith’s teammate when he was in New York.

So, there’s no remaining baggage related to the 32-year-old Smith’s largely failed four seasons with the Jets, who drafted him in 2013 with hopes he’d develop into the franchise quarterback whom they’ve seemingly been searching for forever.

And here we are now: Six years removed from Smith’s last season with the Jets, on Sunday in Seattle, football fate pits the Seahawks’ QB as a central figure standing in the way of the Jets’ bid to make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

How delicious for the viewing audience.

And how dangerous for the Jets.

If you’re a defeatist Jets fan and a subscriber to the SOJ (Same Old Jets) theory, this is a game you fear with every fiber of your being, because these are the very games the team has lost too often to count over the years.

The Jets absolutely, positively cannot lose this game to Geno Smith or this will be placed on a Mantel of Shame alongside the rest of the franchise’s countless calamitous and star-crossed disappointments.

Geno Smith throws while with the Seahawks.
Geno Smith has enjoyed a resurgent season with the Seahawks.
AP

If Smith extinguishes the Jets’ playoff hopes, it would be soul crushing — even though the journeyman has experienced a renaissance in 2022, thriving as a starter after Russell Wilson’s exit to Denver and being named to the Pro Bowl.

Smith leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.7) and has thrown 27 TDs, one less than he threw in his four seasons with the Jets.

Still, he’s Geno Smith, the player who, in between bouts of pouting and petulance, went 12-18 as a starter for the Jets and famously was KOed by that locker-room sucker punch from then-teammate IK Enemkpali over an unpaid debt right before the 2015 season.

The punch not only broke Smith’s jaw, it almost broke his career as he lost his starting job to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the Jets to a 10-6 season, the last time they had a winning record.

Smith started just five games in the six seasons after the punch before taking over as the Seattle starter this season and becoming one of the league’s most surprising storylines.

If Smith harbors any hard feelings towards the Jets, he masked it well on Thursday when speaking to the Seattle media.

“Obviously, there’ll be some speculation and talk about that,” Smith said. “I got a lot of love for the Jets. They drafted me, gave me the opportunity to be in the NFL and live out my dream. My time there, I really appreciated it, helped me grow as a man. I’ve gotten wiser.”

Smith steered clear of any talk that this is some sort of revenge game for him. Whether that stance will remain consistent after Sunday’s game should the Seahawks win is anyone’s guess.

Smith, after leading Seattle to a 27-13 win over the Giants earlier this season, wasted little time before sticking a few needles into the Giants voodoo doll in his postgame interview.

“This game was for Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese,” Smith volunteered, referring to the Giants head coach and GM when he was with them in 2017 and became a controversial figure when the franchise opted to start him over the beloved Eli Manning, ending Manning’s 210-game starting streak. “They believed in me.”

Geno Smith while with the Jets.
Geno Smith’s Jets tenure was filled with controversy and poor results.
AP

Smith clearly couldn’t help himself.

What might he have in store for the Jets should he defeat them Sunday?

When asked on Thursday if he believes an “unfair narrative” was attached to him during his Jets tenure, Smith said, “I can’t even tell you what the narrative was. As far as playing, people may have given up on my ability to play this game at a high level.”

Smith described his trials and tribulations with the Jets, including the KO punch, losing his starting job to Fitzpatrick and not being asked back after 2016 “an amazing time for me to grow and to become an even more selfless individual.”

“The way things transpired wasn’t in my plans or what I thought would happen, but it happened,” he said. “It was the first time I hadn’t played or started since I was maybe 10 years old. Then boom, something happens and now you’ve got to sit.

“Obviously, a freak accident [the punch], things happened and you don’t wish for that on anybody. It was an incredible moment for me to learn, but also to practice resilience and patience. It took a lot of patience and hard work to even have an opportunity to compete again as a starter after all that stuff happened. Obviously, I was able to turn it around and make it a positive.

The Jets are Smith’s third and final former team he will have faced this season. He and the Seahawks defeated the Giants (2017) and Chargers (2018).

“It’s cool the way it’s set up,” Smith said. “It was kind of cool to be able to go out and see some old faces and to compete and try to win against them.”

Nothing for Jets fans would be more uncool than losing to Smith on Sunday, eliminated from the playoffs yet again.

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