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STS*: Brad Smith’s Skill, Consistency, Confidence

Posted by Nick Gallo on October 16, 2010 – 11:59 am

Wildcat, Seminole, TigerCat. All of those terms are different monikers for the offensive formation that former Missouri Tigers quarterback Brad Smith plays for the Jets. While his impact on offense has often been exhilarating and dramatic, his play on special teams has been equally exciting.

“Brad Smith is such a good player,” special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said. “You know how I feel about Brad. He’s one of my favorite guys. Brad has confidence. He sees things well, he has good vision, he’s faster than what you think. Our guys say that in practice, our defenders, they don’t realize it and then all the sudden he bursts by you. He’s done an outstanding job.”

Smith has come up huge in tight situations this season, including converting a late third-and-15 against the Dolphins on an end-around, then returning a third-quarter kickoff 86 yards against the Vikings. At that point in the game on Monday night, the Vikes had closed the Jets’ lead from 12-0 to 12-7.

“He took it almost six deep and exploded out,” said Westhoff of the play that set up Nick Folk’s fifth field goal.

“It’s the same mindset,” Smith said, comparing offense to kickoff-returning. “Everything happens a little deeper, with the whole unit. You usually catch the ball at about the 4- or 5-yard line. There’s a certain timing that you have to have. Everybody backs it up and then you have to run the same thing.”

The fifth-year man, one of the most modest players on the Green & White roster, approaches each play with the same concentration and executes it to the best of his ability. Throughout his career, he’s made that happen, including last year’s 106-yard kickoff-return touchdown against the then 14-0 Colts.

This year he’s already racked up 419 yards on 13 returns, with his 32.2-yard average making him third among NFL kickoff returners.

“I think in every phase everybody is looking for consistency,” Smith said. “Week in and week out you try to do the little things well and that’s my goal, just consistency as far as approaching things the same way. Be it the beginning of the year, or every day in practice, nothing changes. It’s about just trying to keep an even keel and do what I expect to do and what my job is.”

One place in which steadiness and solid decision-making is crucial is in punt formation. On those plays, Smith is charged with the duty of deciding whether to check out of a fake punt. In fact, Westhoff revealed that Smith checked out of two early-season fakes.

“He knows the exact look, if they’re not in the exact look,” said the coach. “And the other thing is that you can never be wrong by getting out. If there’s any doubt, we’re going to kick the football.”

“There are just certain looks per week you look for to run a fake against,” Smith said. “If it’s not there, you just call it off and punt it, and that’s basically what it comes down to. If there’s too many guys to one side or it’s not the look we’re looking for, we get out of it.”

With his heady play and physical attributes, the 2006 fourth-round pick has made an impression on rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson, who has been one of the two players returning punts for the Jets this season. Smith and Wilson traveled together to a local elementary school to assist in a Play 60 event earlier this season and throughout the year Wilson has been able to watch Smith’s decision-making, returning skills and penchant for making big plays in pressure moments.

“You could call him that,” Wilson said when asked if Smith was a “clutch” player. “I think he does a good job of reading his blocks. Once he gets the ball, he times it up and runs full speed with the guys blocking. As soon as they hit their blocks and once he gets rolling, he’s hard to take down.”

*Special Teams Saturday.

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Posted in Nick Gallo | 21 Comments »

21 Responses to “STS*: Brad Smith’s Skill, Consistency, Confidence”

  1. By Jack's Tattoos on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    Brad Smith has turned into a great pick for this franchise..the jets would do well by re-signing smith ot a nice deal.

  2. By Ed in Tucson on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    In my mind there’s no doubt that Brad Smith is the Jets’ most valuable player.

  3. By Kenny P on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    Why did it take 5 years to see what Brad Smith was capable of doing? Glad the Jets figured it out .

  4. By scjoe on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    I hope Smith re signs with the Jets and is here for the long haul, I think he is caught up in a numbers game and there are probably a few other priority’s in his way from the FO point of view, It will be interesting to see what other teams will offer him, and at what position will they base it on. If they are looking at him only as a ST player, that may bode well for the Jets.

  5. By Gmany3k on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    I still think Smith can play safety for us , why not he can do anything .

  6. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    I think Smith might be a new prototype of a ST/special plays players, a guy you keep on the roster because he performs well in multiple roles rather than one single role. I really can’t remember anybody doing that as well as he does, most great ST players from Travis Williams to Leon were also known for one full-time position. Nevertheless, scjoe, going back to the WR situation, if it works out with J-Co, Edwards, and Holmes, I certainly think we’ll try to sign all three of them as well as Smith.

  7. By dougmc on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    Smith is invaluable in so many positions, don’t let him get away. Like I said, I love the way he is so smooth waiting for a gap to open and then he turns on the juice. Float like a butterfly-Sting like a “B” …
    ’64 Tom, all those players were very nice for us and with Tannenbaums genius we made room for newer and better players at the right time, But please no disrepect to TJ,Leon Faneca and the rest from the last 2 years, And who was the one who kept saying we were in trouble with Folk and Wetherford this year…where’s that post now?
    I was one of the few who held on to the belief that Gholston would come around and be a good player. I still want to hang on to that, but, I guess I was wrong and he seems to be a bust…J-E-T-S…

  8. By patrick l on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    I totally agree with anyone who thinks this guy deserves a new contract. He should be paid at least 5 times the league minimum, because he does at least 5 guys jobs.

  9. By davetharave on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    He can do almost anything and is very valuable to the team. It would be a mistake to let Brad get away so hopefully the Jets can get him a nice offer. Being one of Westhoff’s favorites will carry a lot of weight when it’s time to decide on an offer. Hope you stay Brad !

  10. By Hans on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    I can see Brad being a franchise player for years and years to come. He should most definitely get a new, and better, deal. Kid has a LOT of potential to be great for years to come.

  11. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

    dougmc, TJ, Leon, and Faneca all performed well for us. But when you’re as Jets-centric as most of us on this site, eager to analyze every last move, there’s going to be a few awkward notes. TJ got a ton of money upfront and then for some bizarre reason asked for a lot more just as he was losing a step, so I can’t say I minded seeing him go. Leon blew it even worse, turning down two very generous offers and even more bizarrely refusing to train at our facility so we could see how he was doing. I wasn’t one who said Folk was trouble, I said give him a chance, we have and he’s done great. And I liked Weatherford well enough last year and he’s even better this year.

  12. By GaryC on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    no way jets keep edwards and holmes next year.neither one would take that less money over the other.sign Smith,Holmes you have cotchery, keller and the backfield,you have enough offense.start looking to replenish the defense.Edwards can have a nice spot in Arizona with Rhodes.

  13. By dougmc on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    “64 Tom,That’s cool…They made their beds and had to sleep in it, understandably. I was curious who said that about the kickers, I didn’t think it was you. Always admired the passion and knowledge from you and Ira…Let’s Go Jets!!!

  14. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    GaryC, stranger things have happened — like Best averaging only 3.5 so far. Smith is clearly not the answer at WR, that’s why we got Edwards and Cotchery in the first place. But any talk of us having “enough offense” when we need 5 FGs to beat a team that came within thirty yards (and a few uncalled roughing-the-passer flags) of the Super Bowl is WAY off. When we can beat teams the way the Colts, Pats, and Saints have done the last few years, by scoring a lot of points at times when our D isn’t there (that would be several quarters of this year’s games), we’ll talk about having enough O. Besides, Cotchery’s looking like he could be the one to go next year if it comes to that. Back at ya, dougmc!

  15. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Row, Alexander’s 3 for 59 with a 38-yard TD to put the Rams ahead of the Chargers! (My last post before heading out to the sports bar for the day and night.)

  16. By Row on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    All these MU guys are underrated. Danario Alexander just had a 38 yard TD pass. Smoked the DB, and I’ve been saying this all year. Jets really missed out on this guy. We played around with Coles who was a no show. Brad Smith needs more touches. Defenses are not afraid of #6. Smith should get 10+ touches on offense a game and sit back there with Wilson on kickoffs. Go Jets…

  17. By GaryC on Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

    jet fan tom, Best is with the Lions, and he has turf toe so that could be part of the problem why his average isn’t so great. what would he do behind jet line.I also think the jets have enough offense and still would trust cotchery alot more than edwards in a big situation.I have not seen a ball bounce off cotcherys helmut yet.

  18. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    No, GaryC, but you also haven’t seen J-Co make the kind of big plays Edwards makes, like today’s 32-yard TD, all that often, either. It’s pretty clear that Edwards and especially Holmes have notably more speed than J-Co and lack of speed at WR has been our problem for what seems like forever. More on this on my posts on the other two stories ahead of this one, including my point about rotating Holmes in later in games as DBs get tired — that CB he smoked at the start of the pass int play looked like he was standing still! (Good point about Best’s toe and the turf.)

  19. By Tadd on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Brad Smith deserves to be a Pro Bowl Player except there is no position for him to play. This guy is unbelievable. He can play anywhere.

  20. By Layne on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Jets Fan Since ’64 Tom – You haven’t seen Cotchery making big plays because Edwards or Keller are the first and second read on most plays for some reason. Cotchery is still the most reliable receiver with the best hands. He has been great for us the past 4 years…Schotty is getting too excited about his “new toys” and has forgotten how effective Cotchery is

  21. By E on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    I enjoy watching him play all of his different positions. His ability to do this makes him my favorite player on the team. He does a great job with the wildcat running play and does very well in the wide receiver position. Since his rookie year he has been my favorite player due to the fact that he plays so many positions. When he threw the TD pass to Keller in the Bills game I was so happy that i was there to watch it. When he does kick returns i feel confident that he will get the offense good field position in order to start off well. His speed allows him to plow through players meanwhile his ability to move horizontally allows him to avoid contact with players and keep moving forward at a fast pace. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.

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