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When E.Smith Talks, Teams Are Listening

Posted by Eric Allen on December 1, 2010 – 8:51 am

Eric Smith is on quite a roll.

On Thanksgiving night, he was inserted into the Jets’ starting lineup and responded with a rousing performance as he was a physical presence throughout with eight tackles against the Bengals.

“I feel like I played well. When I had opportunities to make plays, I did,” he said. “I made some tackles and communicated pretty well.”

Just four days after yielding 163 passing yards to Texans QB Matt Schaub in the fourth quarter, the Jets tightened up and, in a dominant performance, limited the Bengals to 163 total yards while sacking Carson Palmer three times and intercepting him twice. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie got rave reviews for their performances against Terrell Owens (3 catches, 17 yards) and Chad Ochocinco (4-41), but Smitty turned in one of the finest defensive efforts of his five-year career.

“It was a big changeup for us,” Revis said of the lineup change. “We’ve been moving people around back there in the secondary and it’s good they give Eric Smith a chance to come back there and show what he can do. The guy is very smart and gets us in all the checks and everything we need to get into. He’s a clone of Jim Leonhard — two smart safeties back there leading the way.”

“He went out there and he was communicating. That helps out a lot,” added Cromartie. “It makes things a lot easier when everyone is on the same page and it puts things in perspective of where everyone is going to be. Smitty did a great job of that — he was talking, he was being loud and communicating and making tackles in run support. That’s all you can ask for.”

Then two days after the Jets’ ninth win, Michigan State inserted Smith back into its starting lineup. The four-year letterman at MSU, who started 36 times for Sparty during his collegiate career and had four interceptions and reached double figures in tackles 13 times, didn’t have any eligibility remaining but he was asked to address the Spartans before their regular-season finale at Penn State.

“I was just trying to go watch the game. I was trying to find out if I could get tickets to go watch and then found out they wanted me to be an honorary captain,” said Smith. “I was surprised. I was pretty excited to be a part of that, to be around a team that a chance to win the Big Ten championship.”

Entering Happy Valley with a 10-1 record and a 6-1 mark in the conference, the Spartans hadn’t won at Penn State since 1965 and needed a victory to reach a school record in wins (11) and clinch a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1990.

“These opportunities don’t come along every day,” said Smith of his message to Mark Dantonio’s team. “You have to win your individual battles and do whatever you can for the team to be successful.”

The speech didn’t go on deaf ears as the Spartans withstood a late Lions rally and claimed a 28-22 win. (It’s a shame that the BCS rankings determine that MSU won’t go to the Rose Bowl, but we’ll postpone our playoff talk for another day.) Sparty was a resourceful group in 2010, using a fake punt in overtime to sneak by Notre Dame and coming back from 17- and 15-point deficits against Northwestern and Purdue along the way.

“It was great seeing all those victories, but during the year I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” said Smith, a third-round pick of the Jets in 2006. “They showed a lot of mental toughness and resiliency to hang on and come back and take the lead at the end.”

Sounds just like the club Smith is playing for now. The Jets’ defensive backs will be challenged early and often Monday night by a New England team that has a two-headed rookie monster at tight end with Aaron Hernandez (36-462-3 TDs) and Rob Gronkowski (25-310-6), who have combined for 61 catches and nine TDs.

“Both of them have the ability to go up and get the ball,” Smith said. “Hernandez is pretty much like a receiver, runs well and runs good routes. He creates a lot of tough matchups because you don’t really want to put a linebacker on him — he’s going to run by them. And if you put a corner on him, he’s bigger [6’1”, 245] than them. And then the other guy, Gronkowski, is so big [6’6”, 265], he’ll go up and get the ball and he’s a big threat in the red zone.”

The Patriots also have a decent ground game as both BenJarvus Green-Ellis (4.3-yard average, nine rush TDs) and Danny Woodhead (5.4-yard average) have been effective. Woodhead also has become a reliable target for Brady as he’s averaged 9.4 yards on his 24 receptions.

“We knew how good Danny was. He just really didn’t have the opportunity to play here,” Smith said. “I know a lot of the guys on the defense like me would say ‘I’m glad he is on my team’ when he was here and now we have to play against him.”

With 66 regular-season games under his belt, Smith rides a big wave of momentum into the most significant non-playoff contest of his career.

“I think it’s the biggest because of everything that has been riding on this game. If we can get this victory and have control of the AFC East, it would be huge for us,” he said. “It could be the difference between a bye in the first round or being a five seed.”

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Posted in Eric Allen | 23 Comments »

23 Responses to “When E.Smith Talks, Teams Are Listening”

  1. By IRA on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    EA, Agree Smith played his best game as a Jet vs Ciny. maybe they should’ve made this move earlier in the year. No knock on Pool but he just hasn’t really had the type of year i expected from him. Smith played for Rex last year and played well the game he took over for Rhodes at the time too. His mental part of the game really did help the secondary last week. You could see they were all on the same page and really didn’t see any coverage breakdowns. Of course this week will be a bigger test but Smith has faced Brady and Co since 06 and is very versed on what to expect and what he can do.
    Bottom line no missed tackles, limit the YAC and pressure Brady and hit him as many times as possible.

  2. By Darren on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Is this a sign of him playing well or Brodney Poole playing bad?

  3. By dougmc on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Smith is a great hitter and plays smart. Pool is a ball hawk who was supposed to be a big hitter. Either way we will need both of them as well as all of the secondary to play out of their minds against the pass happy Pats. We need Taylor,Gholston,Thomas, Pace and other lineman to get to Brady without us commiting too many DB”s to blitz schemes. Please don’t let Welker and Woodhead beat us underneath all day. “Bring the Wood” and make these guys afraid,very afraid. Get to Brady…”Momma said knock you out”…

  4. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Finally unsung guys on this team are getting their due hallelujah..to much complaining about my guys they can’t do this can’t do that all they do is make plays nobody’s perfect but these guys come up big when games are most important & on the line (MJV guys) #16 #33 #44 #30 #81 and soon to be new contributors #88 #93 I do see us having one of our very best games defensively at NE.. I noticed and said just so ((someone would))last week E-Smith had a ton of tackles this week my sleeper is #93 he will come up big against NE I believe, then I’d like to see alittle more of #88 Turner.. I do know Tom64 Ray and Charliejet not enough spots so don’t get your draws in a bunch just a play here a play there see what hes got GO JETS

  5. By IRA on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Digs getting more playing time in passing situations this week. He is a better cover guy than any LB and they can use him in more blitz packages like they did last week.
    I like the little i have seen in Turner so far. Maybe he will finally get his career on track with the Jets because he played at USC with Sanchez.

  6. By Darren on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Ira I agree, Digs has been huge as of late and I would expect Rex to have 7 db’s in the game at once at times.

  7. By Gmany3k on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    waiting for Brad smith to cover some TE ‘s otherwise IRA’s first post is all that is needed but will they.

  8. By 37 year fan on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Eric ,… do me a favor ? …. Knock Tom Brady’s Wig Loose !

  9. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Turner is 6’5″, rare for a Jet WR, has played with Sanchez, and I don’t want to rush J-Co back and see him out for the post-season, so I’m up for seeing a little more of him, too, MJV.

  10. By 37 year fan on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Now I know where Rex’s Wig went … Tom Brady’s got it .

  11. By scjoe on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    MJV, I am with you on giving a few other guys a look, especially Turner and Cumberland, but you know what the problem is? It is the ridicules “inactive list” that they have for no apparent reason. For the life of me I can not understand why there should be an inactive list, the players make the same amount of money whether they play or not, so it is not a money issue, so what is the point? This is a very violent game, there are a lot of injuries, and we have 5 guys sitting on the sideline who can come in for injured players, but because of that senseless list they can not. If there is one good point about going to the 18 game schedule, it would be the elimination of the inactive list.

  12. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Here’s my take with E-Smith Pool Lowery Coleman and Diggs we all complain yes I said WE me included have had our troubles with the Safeties, in giving it some serious though they are collectively not bad at all the problem has been not using them in the right situations when one is having a bad game we have 3-4 very capable fill ins that may just have a better day can’t see a down side to that as it gos in baseball send in your best reliever and pertaining back to football with the fresh legs and perspective you know the hungry guy looking to make a name and team GO JETS

  13. By scjoe on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    I have been against the Nick Folk signing right from the beginning. I thought they should have given Feeley the extra few bucks and keep some consistency at that very important position, they didn’t, now they are looking to replace Folk, rightfully so, but why wait until “after” this very important game coming up this week? If Brown showed anything in his tryout he needs to be on the roster right now! What do you think Folk will have going through his head as he is out there attempting a very critical FG in a game this important? I for one think it will be a disaster just waiting to happen. Make the switch now Rex/Tanny

  14. By Too Kool on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    scjoe I couldn’t agree with you more. You can analyse the matchups and who should be getting the play time till the cows come home, but this game will totally depend on Folk’s right foot. If he makes ‘em, we win. If he repeats Browns performance, we lose. I think this game can be viewed in as simple a light as that.

  15. By Big At on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    I am hoping for a great game this MOnday night. As a long time Jet fan I am hoping the Jets give everything they have from the opening whistle until its all said and done. This game is going to take everything the Jets have in the bag. I hope we can get a win. Am looking forward to this game…take it to em Jets…J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS>

  16. By Big At on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    There is one man that I think will be the unsung hero of this game.. JASON TAYLOR…for years this man has terrorized Brady. Can he dig deep another time and be fast enough to torment Brady.

  17. By THUNDER LIPS on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    i would like to see more of Digs. Hes very athletic intense and hits like a freight train. I always thought Smith was a pretty good safety. not the most athletic of all but smart and hits a ton too.

  18. By Pranit on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    We definitely need a pro safety next year…Jimmy is really good but he has his shortcomings…And Eric smith is good (better than Pool) but not a starting safety in the NFL..backup probably.

  19. By GaryC on Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Ira, don’t understand your confidence with Ihedigbo in coverage, look at the guy, he is very stiff,he is best when coming forward like on kickoff coverage your punt coverage, bad mistake to match him up with a back coming out of backfield or even a tightend.

  20. By charliejet on Dec 2, 2010 | Reply

    DISGUISE DEFENSIVE FRONTS. Mangenious and Ron Ryan were awesome in their defensive strategy against Brady. Did you see how Cleveland was using their defensive tackles in their 3-4 to come off the line to jam up the intermediate and short pass routes to the tight ends. The tackles(cleveland) were actually doing a cross pattern so that NE’s tight ends were being “intercepted” by Mangenious/Rob Ryans defensive. Sometimes Clevelands tackles were on opposite sides of the field(crossing patterns) – lliterally acting like cornerbacks. . Remember, these are 6’7 295 and 62 295 pound linemen! Brady looked totally confused. Mix it up NY! Mix it up! (Very innovative Mangenious/Ryan)

  21. By charliejet on Dec 2, 2010 | Reply

    Weekly Mantra…………..



  22. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 2, 2010 | Reply

    MJV and Ira, I’m sure all these guys would be better if we had any real pass rush but I wouldn’t shed too many tears if they all became or remained back-ups or situational guys, including Leonhard. I’m with Pranit, both S positions need to be seriously rethought next year.

  23. By Freddie on Dec 2, 2010 | Reply

    Just checking Smitty to see if you read this stuff

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