New York Jets coach Rex Ryan experienced the growing pains of a rookie quarterback a few years ago.
Mark Sanchez was New York’s fifth overall selection in 2009 despite skipping his senior season. Sanchez threw 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions as a rookie, and also had 10 fumbles. Ryan developed a strategy to curtail Sanchez’s turnover tendency, which he intends to pass along to rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who has given the ball away 11 times (eight interceptions and three fumbles) this season.
According to New York Daily News reporter Seth Walder, Ryan may bring back a red-yellow-green traffic light verbiage to help Smith manage risk and rewards during games. Yep, a little like the punishment system your teacher used in grade school.
A red call would tell Smith to be cautious, green would tell him to be aggressive and yellow would be in between.
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Ryan told the New York Daily News. “Kind of a fine line, as you guys even talked about it earlier, about being aggressive but being smart with it as well … We want to be aggressive, there’s no question, you want to be aggressive, but you don’t want to do something to the detriment of your football team. Clearly, turning the football over, has been a real problem, not just this season but the last couple of seasons as well. And we all know what that leads to.”
Of course, Ryan’s stoplight terminology led to 68 interceptions and 43 fumbles by Sanchez in his career. Either Ryan’s phrases did not sink in for Sanchez, who lost his job to Smith prior to this season, or he never explained to Sanchez the meaning of each color. Maybe Ryan's stoplight jargon beats teaching quarterbacks how to make good decisions by having them play Madden NFL 25, but it still does not have a good track record.
If this experiment does not work (and Ryan was already backtracking by Wednesday evening on whether he'd use it), Ryan may have a lot of time to invent new terms after the season.