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Geno Smith's Daily Routine

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 10:50 AM

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Geno Smith's daily routine revolves around the details

By now, nothing surprises Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

He deflects trouble with a faint smile and a nod. He takes solace in the relationships he’s building around the locker room, and he buries himself in a playbook binder and drill "dictionary" provided by quarterbacks coach David Lee.

Other quarterbacks can attest: It is literally the size of a dictionary.

Through a series of text messages and conversations with Peyton Manning and teammates of Tom Brady, Smith has learned that the most important part of his first year in the NFL is to develop a routine. That’s what eliminates the unexpected.

Wake up at the same time every day, and go to sleep when your body tells you to. Study at the same time, eat breakfast at the same time and fill the voids with more football.

"They’re sticklers for what they do," Smith said. "Peyton and Archie (Manning), all those guys told me to stick to that daily routine."

Smith aspires to be just like them, so by the time his first mandatory minicamp ended last week, he already had crafted the day in the life of a rookie quarterback into an art form.

In a recent post-practice sit-down with The Star-Ledger, Smith outlined his disciplined schedule, giving insight into how far the demands on first-year signal-callers have become. With the rise of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the bar only climbs higher every year. Expectations demand a robotic commitment.

"You have to be that detailed to be great," Smith said.

LONG DAY BEGINS

Smith wakes up every morning at 5:30 a.m. and makes the short, half-mile drive from his hotel to the team’s complex in Florham Park and arrives by 6:15. Sometimes, he rides in with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who stays at the same hotel. Other times, Smith travels with his roommate, rookie guard Will Campbell.

He gets breakfast, served at the Jets’ cafeteria, right after his arrival, an hour and 15 minutes before the first meeting starts. Smith uses the time to go over the practice script for the day and prepare himself for the quarterback drills and play cards ahead. If he eats quickly enough, he can get a head start on watching practice from the day before, trying to pick out mistakes.

At 7:30, the Jets have their team meeting, where head coach Rex Ryan addresses the entire group. Sometimes there is a speech or message; other times, the gathering immediately dissolves into positional meetings. Smith’s mind is still churning, trying to work ahead and prepare for the relentlessness of Lee.

At 8, Smith, Lee, Mark Sanchez, Matt Simms and Greg McElroy head to the meeting room and the giant digital projector, where they further examine the tape from the previous practice.

There are likely new sets of plays coming in, and Smith finds himself scribbling every word like a first-year engineering student, afraid to miss the slightest detail that can scramble the equation. Lee is meticulous about Smith’s footwork and can tell by the flight pattern on a ball whether or not there’s an extra hitch in his step, so there is no margin for missteps.

"I write every single thing," Smith said. "That’s part of being detailed. On this level, guys move so fast and the reaction time is so quick."

The Jets’ offense and its components have been described by Lee as a "whole new world" every day for Smith, who played in an offense with "no similarities whatsoever" to his days at West Virginia.

Following the meeting, practice begins any time between 11 and noon and lasts roughly two hours. A few live team drills against a first-team defense, a daily dose of Mornhinweg and Lee’s quarterback drills, some individual work with wide receivers and running backs are next. In a highly contested competition, all of it matters. All of it is filmed.

Twenty minutes of autograph signing are next, and from 1:30 to 2 p.m., players come off the field to a protein shake and scheduled work in the weight room. Smith then meets the media for 15 minutes, where each portion of his six-hour day to that point is examined.

He says he is used to that now, too.

TEACHING THE ROOKIES

A little after 4 p.m. is when rookie school begins.

Dave Szott, the team’s director of player development, holds court and lectures players on the common pitfalls of a young professional athlete. Because if perfecting a cadence, memorizing a new play concept, dissecting footwork, lamenting mistakes and logging a semester’s worth of notes weren’t enough, one also must worry about the flimsiness of the restaurant business and why it is a faulty investment.

"We all saw ‘Broke’ (an ESPN documentary on the countless athletes who squandered their millions), so the thing we do is we ask questions," Smith said. "I want to know: ‘What did this guy buy? How did he end up having this much money and go to having that much money?’

"That’s the eye-opener, how many guys try and invest their money and end up losing it."

On a good day, Smith is back at the hotel around 7 p.m. after dinner, where he and Campbell begin quizzing each other on audibles, each blurting out a random call and the other listing what changes for every position.

"He’ll walk up and say, ‘Hey, Geno, Buckeye,’ " Smith said. "That’s how we learn mentally. I think that helps me out a lot because when you get into the heat of the situation, I don’t have time to think, ‘Aw, man. What’s Buckeye?’ "

HOOPS AND REST

Smith insists they have some fun.

At 9 p.m., the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs tip off in the NBA Finals, and if Smith can get through the first half without passing out, he is happy. When his eyes begin to "see double," he says, it’s a sure-fire sign it’s time to go to sleep.

Smith is from the Miami area and was a Heat fan long before the days of LeBron James,
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

"All the old guys — Alonzo Mourning, Jamal Mashburn, all those guys," Smith said. "There’s a lot of LeBron fans who have transitioned to being Heat fans."

On the weekends, Smith’s body clock still juts him awake at 5:30, and he does his best to relax until at least 7 a.m. He studies in the morning and texts Mornhinweg if he has any questions.

He usually sees the coach dining at the hotel restaurant anyway and can count on an informal conversation to tie up any loose ends.

With any free time outside of the team facility, he and Campbell have discovered a common bond, an amicable way to pass the time.

"We’re constant moviegoers," Smith said. "So I see everything there is to be seen."

His latest trip was to view "The Purge," a futuristic horror-thriller. Smith does not recommend it.

But there is not much brain space left for a thorough movie review because back in the hotel room, a binder full of notes sits waiting to be read. An offensive coordinator lives three floors up waiting to be texted with questions. A lineman roommate stands a few feet away waiting to be quizzed.

And 5:30 a.m. is coming sooner than he thinks.

"Eventually," Smith said, "it will all become second nature. The one good thing about it is, it’s part of being a professional. I want to be a great quarterback."


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