Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Geno Smith spent four seasons with the Jets organization after he was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Now, as a member of the Seahawks, he will have an opportunity to keep the Jets out of the playoffs, a place they last visited in the 2010 season.
If Gang Green loses to Seattle, it will be eliminated from postseason contention. A win on Sunday and a Patriots loss to the Dolphins would set up a winner-take-all scenario in Week 18 in Miami.
Seattle also has a lot to play for, as they’re a half-game out of the NFC’s seventh and final wildcard spot.
“Not anything for me, I just feel like the importance of it is that we need a win to get to the playoffs,” Smith said. “Obviously, there will be some speculation and talk about that, it comes with the territory.
“It is to be expected. I have a lot of love for the Jets, the organization and the people that are still there that were there when I got drafted. For me and this team, it’s business as usual, another week to prepare and a tough challenge for us to go out there and try to get this win. We need it.”
Smith had a rollercoaster ride during his time with the Jets. He started 29 games during his first two seasons (2013-14) with the Jets as he threw for 5,571 yards, 25 touchdowns and 34 interceptions while completing 57.5% of his passes.
Then in 2015, Smith suffered a fractured jaw after a sucker punch by teammate IK Enemkpali. Smith recovered physically from that, but he only started two more games for the Jets following that incident as Ryan Fitzpatrick became the Jets starting quarterback, leading them to a 10-6 record in 2015 and on the doorstep of the playoffs.
During the 2016 season, Smith tore his ACL and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. After the Jets didn’t pick up his fifth-year option, Smith bounced around a bit after signing with the Giants and Chargers before signing with the Seahawks as Russell Wilson’s backup in 2019.
After Wilson was traded to the Broncos last offseason, Smith became the Seahawks starter. Smith is in the mix of a resurrection season as he has thrown for 3,886 yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.7%).
Despite the way things ended with the Jets, Smith says he isn’t bitter as he has grown on and off the field since that time.
“I think that was an amazing time for me to grow and become even more of a selfless individual,” Smith said. “Obviously, we have our own goals and the way things transpired wasn’t in my plans or what I had thought would happen, but it happened.
“You kind of take the approach of, ‘You can’t cry over spilled milk,’ and also being a great teammate to the guys around me, not letting that hinder me from helping them succeed in any way that I can. That kind of became my career for a while, being a great teammate, trying to help guys get better, and do whatever it took to help the team win outside of playing. What’s different was challenging, but it also taught me a lot and helped me grow.”
While the Jets will try to stop Smith and the Seahawks on the field, they will also try to turn the page and halt their longest losing streak of the season. After beginning December 7-4, the Jets have lost four consecutive games as they’ve dealt with a quarterback carousel, injuries, a lack of a running game and offensive woes.
The latest example came in the 19-3 loss to the Jaguars on Dec. 22. Zach Wilson started at quarterback as he completed 9 of 18 passes for 92 yards and an interception before being benched for Chris Streveler, who was brought up from the practice squad before the game. Mike White will return under center against the Seahawks after he missed the last two weeks after fracturing his ribs against the Bills on Dec. 11.
It has been more than just the Jets offense that has slipped during their losing streak as their defense has also given up several big plays. Against the Lions in Week 15, Jared Goff threw a 51-yard go-ahead touchdown to Brock Wright on 4th and 1 with 1:49 left in the fourth quarter. The following week against the Jaguars, in the second quarter, with the game tied at 3-3, Jacksonville scored a touchdown on a 96-yard, 16-play drive that the Jets never seemed to recover from.
As bad as December was, losses the Jets had newfound playoff life after losses by the Dolphins, Patriots and Raiders last week.
“It was always going to be about not being stuck to a label with those four games,” Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins told the Daily News. “We understand those were not our best showings, but we have an opportunity to right that ship.
“We just gotta go out and take advantage. It doesn’t matter if s—t a brick. We just gotta continue preparing and do everything in our power to put ourselves in the best position to execute and to make these last two games matter and try to make a playoff push.”
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