Just call him Broadway Geno.
In a move all but solidified by the shoulder injury of veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez, rookie Geno Smith was Wednesday officially named the starter for the New York Jets in the team’s season-opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In addition to outplaying Sanchez, Smith bested Greg McIlroy and Matt Simms for the starting job.
“Learning Marty’s system, he really did a tremendous job, as did all the quarterbacks,” said head coach Rex Ryan according the New York Jets’ website. “I think he really fits the system. He’s a guy who is very accurate with the football, he has good mobility in the pocket and he’s adjusting to the speed of the game.”
A second-round pick out of West Virginia (No. 39 overall), Smith was snapped up by Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports.
The decision is a boon for the new sports marketing agency, one that comes before Smith, 22, has even played a regular season down in the league; he is the starting quarterback in the nation’s premiere media market.
The NFL Players Association found no wrongdoing in an investigation into whether anyone other than a licensed agent registered with the Players Association — namely one Mr. Shawn Carter — had helped recruit Smith to the agency. Smith fired his agent after dropping to the second round.
“I don’t have any concerns,” Smith told the media at the time of the investigation. “Jay-Z didn’t recruit me. I chose Roc Nation Sports for management because it was something that myself and my family came to a conclusion and we felt comfortable with. And I’m happy to be a part of it. Here, I’m here to talk about football. That’s life outside of football, and what I do in this locker room and on that field is what matters now.”
It may have been what happened on the field that twisted the organization’s arm to name Smith the starter.
Ryan came under fire by the New York media in recent weeks for playing Sanchez in the fourth quarter of a game that meant virtually nothing. With reserve players in the game, Sanchez was exposed to a hit that took him out of the game and, indeed — depending on Smith’s play going forward — his career as a Jet could very well be over. The Jets cut another quarterback, Greg McIlroy, on Saturday.