A few weeks after the season, Geno Smith showed up on the USC campus to work with one of the nation's top throwing specialists. It was more than a few passing drills, a pat on the back and a plane ticket home. He stuck around for the full House.
Smith spent nearly two months under the supervision of Tom House, who introduced the New York Jets' quarterback to the high-tech world of physical and mental performance. He evaluated Smith's throwing motion by sticking tiny sensors all over his body and hooking him up to a computer. When he threw a football, it generated data in a three-dimensional representation that detailed every nuance in his delivery. A 1,000-frame-per-second camera allowed House and his team of instructors to break down every phase.
And that was only part of the program.
As he does with every quarterback, House assessed Smith at the outset, focusing on four basic metrics: biomechanical, functional strength, nutrition and a mental/emotional profile. His progress in those areas was charted throughout his stay.
"I think he left incrementally better in all four metrics," House told ESPN.com.
House spoke in generalities, saying he doesn't get into specifics when discussing his clients. Fair enough. He described Smith as a hard worker who's "not afraid to put in the time. ... He was challenged, and he met the challenge perfectly."
Some of the biggest names in the sport, including Tom Brady and Drew Brees, have gone to House for advice and help. The man knows throwing. He pitched in the major leagues for eight years (he caught Hank Aaron's 715th homer while standing in the Atlanta Braves' bullpen) and later became a pitching coach. In 2014, he crossed over to pop culture. Bill Paxton played House in the Disney film "Million Dollar Arm," a true story in which House teaches two teenaged cricket players from India how to pitch a baseball.
So yes, he knows big projects. Smith isn't a big project, according to House.
"He's really good," he said. "None of them are perfect -- Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux weren't perfect when they came to me -- but we try to train for perfection."
Smith spoke positively of his experience with House, but he downplayed the notion that his mechanics needed to be tweaked. House said he made "incremental changes in his delivery and incremental changes in his conditioning." He also said he adjusted Smith's diet, which should help. He expects Smith to return for a "tuneup" before training camp.
You won't be able to notice any differences in Smith's delivery, at least not with the naked eye. House said half-jokingly, "If you recognize big changes, I need you to come work for me."
There will be skeptics, of course. Will a scientific study of his throwing motion help Smith avoid multiple-interception games? Will a healthier diet make him better in the red zone? So much of the quarterback position involves innate ability. But in House's world, the objective is to help every athlete improve by 5 percent. That, he said, can separate a Super Bowl champion from a marginal starter.
Say this for Smith: He's trying.
"This," House said, "should make him a more consistent performer for a longer time."