The New York Jets have no chance to reach the playoffs, and they are turning to Geno Smith in hopes of finishing the year on a high note. The quarterback will be inserted back into the starting lineup when the team hosts the Miami Dolphins on “Monday Night Football.”
Smith was benched in Week 8, having thrown three interceptions in the first quarter of what would become a 43-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills. After he replaced an injured Michael Vick in New York’s last game, head coach Rex Ryan has decided to go back to the Jets’ 2013 second-round pick.
"Purpose of putting Geno back, let him observe, but now's the opportunity for him to step back in, and let's see. We'll see how it goes," Ryan told reporters. "I, for one, I'm excited to watch him. And he has my support on this, and that's what I'll say about it.”
There’s little reason to believe that the Jets will be any better with Smith under center. He’s gone 1-7 as a starter in 2014, with his only victory coming over the one-win Oakland Raiders in the season opener. New York went 1-2 with Vick as the starter.
Since Smith was named the starter, Miami has gone from a 4.5-point favorite to a 7-point favorite. The over/under is 42 points, tied for the lowest of any game remaining on the Week 13 schedule.
It would be difficult to find a quarterback who’s played worse this season than Smith. He ranks last in the NFL in passer rating (67.4) and passing yards per game (162), and only Bryan Hoyer has a worse completion percentage.
Smith had his best outing of the season when he replaced Vick last week, completing 10 of 12 passes for 89 yards. His passer rating of 97.6 was a season-high, but he’ll have a difficult time replicating that success in Week 13.
The Dolphins boast one of the league’s top pass defenses, ranking fourth in passing yards per game allowed (211.7) and tied for fourth in sacks (31). Miami has allowed the likes of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers to post big numbers, but they’ve been dominant against the lower echelon signal callers. They limited rookie Derek Carr to 146 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while Blake Bortles posted a 58.6 passer rating against the Dolphins.
Cornerback Brent Grimes has been a standout performer for Miami, ranking second in the NFL with five interceptions. Cameron Wake leads the team with 8.5 sacks.
Ryan Tannehill won’t have the same difficulties that Smith will face. He’s going against a New York defense that allows a league-high 109.4 passer rating, and his recent play suggests that he’ll have a strong performance. In his last four games, the Dolphins quarterback has completed 72.5 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
The contest is much more important for the Dolphins, who are still in the playoff race. They trail the final AFC wild-card spot by just one game, though five teams are ahead of them with a 7-4 record.
Miami has lost two of their last three games, falling at Detroit and Denver by a total of 7 points. All of their losses have been to winning teams, but the Dolphins are 3-0 against teams that are under .500. New York is 1-8 against winning teams, and has suffered 14 of their last 15 losses by at least 7 points.
PREDICTION: Miami over New York, 24-14