The New England Patriots will quickly move from one division rival and one rookie quarterback to the next, as they face Geno Smith and the New York Jets on Thursday after taking on E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Smith looked promising in leading his team to a minor upset over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the future looks brighter for Jets fans following Smith’s display. He showed the ability to effectively run with the football, and he looked good as a passer, especially once the game started to run its course.
New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) runs against the Baltimore Ravens defense in the second quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Here’s what New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about Smith at today’s walkthrough, “I thought he played well in the preseason, limited opportunity, and I thought he played very well against Tampa last week. He ran well, he threw well, made good decisions, and moved the team at critical points in the game. That’s the most important thing; made the plays that he needed to make to win.”
Belichick’s assessment of Smith’s performance is exactly how many people felt about the job Smith did in his debut, and the Patriots are going up against a better quarterback on Thursday. That said, the wide receivers and running backs around him won’t be as good, but you can’t sleep on RB Chris Ivory either; he’s solid.
Stevan Ridley has been a hot topic around these parts after his benching on Sunday, and his name became even more popular following the news of Shane Vereen’s wrist injury yesterday. Ridley’s ability more than makes up for his fumbles, which are sometimes simply overstated. He will definitely have to make improvements in that facet of the game, but he’s still a legitimate feature back in this league. I have little doubt that he will be starting against the Jets, and a quote from Bill Belichick on Ridley is supplied below.
“I’ve talked to Stevan. Look, every player has the same responsibility every week — be ready to play, be ready to go. That’s their job. They can’t control coaching decisions. They control their preparation and they control their performance when they’re in the game.”