If you’ve never watched an interview with Brandon Marshall, do it. He’s a very passionate, entertaining guy. I’ve seen him in the past and that’s the only reason I watched First Take, as they had him at the desk for an interview in New York.
It was very good, as promised. Marshall knows a ton about football and it’s entertaining to hear him talk about plays, personnel packages, and all the rest. He used to be a bit of a hothead, but he’s clearly a student of the game, a guy who wants to win.
And he said he’s fully in support of quarterback Geno Smith.
He’s pretty much alone in that.
Not only does he support him, but he’s so confident Smith will start that he lived with him for two months. They were trying to build chemistry. He did the same thing back when he was in Denver, with Jay Cutler. And it worked. Those two had tremendous chemistry early on in their careers, as Marshall said on the show.
He wants the same thing with Smith. He said he’s incredibly impressed with how Smith has dedicated himself to the work of football, always coming in first and leaving last, and he thinks Smith can “make all the throws.”
It’s hard to know how serious this is. Marshall clearly has a lot to gain by supporting his quarterback. If he and Geno can be buddies like him and Cutler used to be, he becomes the prime target. He was already the No. 1 wideout, but being on good terms with the QB never hurts.
Is this just Marshall campaigning for more touches? He’s a guy who has set reception records in the past. He loves to get the ball a lot, and he’s great at making plays once he has it. Maybe he’s just trying to make sure it’s in his hands more than Eric Decker’s.
He sure as hell wasn’t going to get on the show and say Smith is terrible, which is what most other people have been saying for two years now. But maybe he’s serious. Maybe he really likes what he’s seeing. Most people are just looking at stats for the last few years. Marshall has been living with the guy. Don’t count that out.
Plus, perhaps people are too hard on Smith. Yes, he looks lost at times and he makes a lot of mistakes. But there have been some marked improvements in his game.
Last year, these improvements were largely unnoticed because the Jets were so bad. They only won three games with Smith under center. Geno, though, got his interceptions down from 21 in his rookie year to 13 in his sophomore year. He did play in fewer games, but that’s still a heavy trend in the right direction.
He still doesn’t throw nearly enough touchdowns—12 in his rookie year and 13 last year—but that’s still trending up. Plus, he hasn’t had much to work with. His top target last year was Decker. While Decker is a great No. 2, he’s not a No. 1.
By no means should people crown Smith. He may not even make it through the year as the starter. But perhaps—perhaps—Marshall’s comments aren’t completely made up just to win his quarterback’s affection.
Then again, it’s camp. Every team is excited, everyone is happy and everyone is optimistic. Raiders fans are talking about winning the division. Rams fans are talking about being better than the Seahawks. At this time of year, everyone always feels good.
The truth comes out when the players hit the field in the fall. No matter what Marshall believes right now, everyone will know exactly where Smith stands when he has to make pressure throws in-game situations, not when he has to make easy tosses at a controlled camp with only his own teammates.