Jeff Smith was highly involved and very efficient in his season debut, providing a jolt to the New York Jets’ wide receiver position.
A quarterback-turned-wide receiver from Boston College, Smith signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He played in just one game, a Week 15 visit to the Ravens in which he pulled in a 12-yard reception and failed to track a solid deep ball from Sam Darnold.
Smith was poised to be the Jets’ WR4 behind Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, and Denzel Mims until a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve. He returned to take on the Broncos in Week 4 and was immediately tossed into a featured role by Adam Gase, leading all skill position players with 73 offensive snaps (94.8% of all offensive plays).
Surprisingly, Smith was one of the best players on the field for the Jets in his season debut, pulling in seven catches on nine targets for 81 yards and four first downs. He also drew a 38-yard pass interference call after winning on a go route. It was arguably the best performance of the season for a Jets skill position player not named Jamison Crowder.
At 23 years old, possessing 4.34 speed (reported pro day 40-yard dash time), and still early in his transition from quarterback, Smith brings intriguing potential to the table at a position where the Jets are in dire need of some juice.
Let’s look at how Smith was able to make an impact on Thursday night.
Adam Gase made use of Smith’s speed and cut him loose over the middle on a couple of crossing routes in the first half. On this 2nd & 5 play in the first quarter, the Jets hurry up to the line and Smith motions from outside the numbers to just outside of the tight end. Off the snap, Smith quickly squares up and presses the corner as if he is going to block (syncing with the play action fake), forcing the corner to back off. Smith takes advantage of the created space and zooms over the middle for an 18-yard grab.