The New York Jets are sticking with quarterback Geno Smith -- for now -- despite a disappointing start to his second NFL season. It's a logical move as long as there's a chance Smith will improve with experience. Even if backup Michael Vick were to provide a short-term upgrade, he's 34 years old and hasn't been durable throughout his career. There is no long term with Vick.
The concern for the Jets is that quarterbacks over the past eight-plus NFL seasons have almost never improved significantly after their first 16 starts. ESPN analyst and former NFL executive Bill Polian joined me in breaking down some of the findings back in June. We singled out the 41 quarterbacks who made their first 16 starts from 2006 through last season. The ones who succeeded ultimately almost always played well early.
With Smith having passed the 20-start mark Sunday, and having posted a 27.6 QBR through four games after a 35.9 QBR last season (50 is average), that is ominous news for his chances to be a long-term success as an NFL quarterback.
I've updated the project to show how those 41 players performed from their 17th starts forward. The results bring into focus the long odds facing Smith and the Jets as they prepare for Week 5 and beyond. It's also instructive to see which quarterback is beating the odds and what factors could explain his success.