FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - If you think Geno Smith is looking over his shoulder, think again.
Despite having only one touchdown pass and four interceptions in his first two NFL games, the Jets rookie quarterback reiterated he's not shying away from competition -- from either Mark Sanchez or Matt Simms.
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"Whether it's Mark or Matt, I'm going to compete and I'm going to find ways to get better," Smith said Monday on ESPN New York radio. "That's my mentality and that's my mantra."
Although he acknowledged Sanchez's shoulder injury (and subsequent short-term injured reserve designation) "played a role" in the team's decision to make him the starter for Weeks 1 through 3, Smith believes the competition with the fifth-year quarterback was closer than most believe.
Asked about Sanchez's pregame claim Thursday night to NFL Network that he clearly had won the starting job -- prior to injuring his right shoulder Aug. 24 against the Giants -- Smith offered a Rex Ryan-like response.
"That's his opinion," said the second-round pick, who has thrown for 470 yards and has a .534 completion percentage. "Neither Mark nor I make that decision. The coaches do. It would have been interesting to see. He did get hurt and it did play a role in it. But I think I was right there in it."
Smith said he hasn't discussed the comments with Sanchez, but he acknowledged that as a competitor, "you have to have the utmost amount of confidence in yourself in order to give yourself a chance. So I'm fine with that.
"As long as he's on this team, we're going to continue to compete."
But Sanchez, who is eligible to play Week 11 vs. Buffalo, could be the least of Smith's worries. According to an ESPN report, there is growing support for Simms within the organization -- meaning a quarterback switch could be on the horizon if Smith struggles.
Smith, though, doesn't seem the least bit fazed.
"I don't think they would have brought me in here if they didn't see the potential in me," said Smith, who will face fellow rookie EJ Manuel and the Bills on Sunday. "I look at my job as a day-by-day thing. I try to prove myself every single day.
"Matt, I think, is a really good quarterback. But I think I'm the guy for the job."
Smith said he's still maturing as a player and has a long "ways to go" in his development. But if the Jets plan to ride it out with him this season, he'll have to do a better job of protecting the football. Smith threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter to help seal a 13-10 loss at New England.
"That fourth quarter, that wasn't me," he said in his radio interview.
Earlier in the day, Smith told reporters it took him "about a day" to get over the loss to the Patriots. "The last 12 plays of the game were fairly sloppy," he said. "I tried to force things.
"I'm kind of mad at myself for some of the plays that I know I can easily make and some of the decisions that I made that ultimately cost us the game. It's a learning experience. You move on from it and get better next week."