Smith completed just 8 of 19 passes for 115 yards and rushed for one touchdown in the Jets' 26-20 win over the Saints. While he avoided throwing an interception for just the second time this season, his 115 passing yards were his fewest of the year. The 19 pass attempts were also a season low for the rookie.
"I think I did a pretty good job today of managing situations. Not trying to force the ball, knowing when to tuck the ball and run, knowing when to get the ball out of my hands versus the pressure look, or even throw it away," Smith said. "I think not having so many negative plays and negative yardage, I think that's something that really helped us today because many times we were able to flip field position with punts and it helped our defense out going up against a really good offense."
The Saints entered Sunday's game porous against the run as they were ranked 20th, but they were stout against the pass as they were ranked ninth. Not surprisingly, the Jets favored a methodical, ground-and-pound plan Sunday, taking the ball out of their rookie's hands.
Smith started slow, completing just 2 of 6 passes for six yards in the first quarter, and never got on track. His longest play was a 44-yard screen pass to Greg Salas at the beginning of the third quarter, but Salas did almost all of the work to turn that play into a big gain. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Smith's eight completions traveled a total of seven yards downfield.
The rookie's best stretch of play came after the two-minute warning in the first half with the Jets ahead 14-13. Smith completed passes of 13 yards and 21 yards to Salas and Zach Sudfeld, and capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run to put the Jets ahead, 20-14. On his touchdown run, Smith used a nice shake move to elude Cameron Jordan. It was his third rushing touchdown of the season.
"It was designed," Smith said. "I think it was one of those plays going into the half that really elevated us because not only did we get some points but we gained some momentum."
In the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, Smith threw just two passes, both of which fell incomplete. Both attempts came on third down, with the Jets giving Smith the chance to extend their drives and keep Drew Brees off the field, but Smith wasn't able to make the plays.
"I think our running game was working for us all game and we lean on our offensive line, especially in those situations. You want to run the ball and you want to make those guys stop you," Smith said of the conservative calls. "Looking back on it I think it was the right play call because of just the way we were running the ball all game."
Despite his up-and-down play this season, Smith has the Jets at 5-4 heading into their bye week, and in prime position for a playoff spot. He has simple plans for the upcoming week off.
"Studying," Smith said. "Studying."