Geno Smith, Jets regress in blowout loss to Titans
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Geno Smith accepted full responsibility -- both behind closed doors and behind the lectern.
The rookie quarterback shouldered the blame for his nightmarish performance, which began spiraling out of control minutes into the first quarter. In the wake of his worst game as a Jet, he walked around the locker room Sunday at LP Field and promised his teammates it won't happen again. Then he stepped in front of the cameras and faced the music in the Music City.
"This is pro football and every man has to man up,'' Smith said after committing four turnovers that led to 28 Titans points in a 38-13 beatdown. "That's what I'm trying to go out there and do. I'll get better from this one.''
The Jets (2-2) have no choice but to believe in him as long as he's their starter.
"I have total faith in Geno,'' guard Willie Colon said. "He's our quarterback. I am going to ride with him until the end. This whole offensive line is going to do the same.''
Linebacker Antwan Barnes shared those sentiments, as did many players. "He's my guy," he said of Smith. "He is from Miami [like Barnes], so I have to be with him 100 percent of the way. He came to us and told us it won't happen again, so all I can do is put my trust in him.''
A visibly ticked-off Rex Ryan had a hard time wrapping his mind around what took place. His team had more rushing yards (91) than Chris Johnson and the Titans (78), and Smith (23-for-34) threw for more yards (289) than Jake Locker -- who left in the third quarter with a right hip injury -- and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined (257). But the final score told the story.
"We got beat in every phase of the game: offense, defense, special teams, coaching, you name it,'' Ryan said. "It shocked me. I never expected that the game would turn out like this. I don't know what else to say.''
The Jets picked up where they left off the last time they were here, as Smith emulated Mark Sanchez with a Music City meltdown of his own.
The rookie had three first-half turnovers, resulting in 21 points, and had a fourth-quarter sack-fumble recovered in the end zone for a Tennessee touchdown. Feeling pressure, Smith tried to put the ball behind his back, switching it from his right hand to his left. But Karl Klug sacked him and jumped on the ball to make it 31-6.
Smith and the Jets couldn't get out of their own way -- even with help from the officials, who inexplicably called forward progress in the third quarter although Smith, at his own 1, ran backward into the end zone and was sacked.
The Jets never came close to digging themselves out of a 24-6 halftime hole. Despite the re-implementation of push-ups after 20 penalties against the Bills, they committed eight (10 total flags).
Last December, Sanchez had five turnovers in a 14-10 loss. On Sunday, Smith was just as maddening.
He was picked off on the Jets' second play by cornerback Alterraun Verner, who returned his first pass 34 yards. The ball, intended for Stephen Hill, was thrown late, and Hill was drilled in the helmet by safety Michael Griffin. Hill left with a head injury and did not return.
Smith also lost a fumble on a second-quarter scramble, which led to a 17-3 Titans lead on a 4-yard pass from Locker to Nate Washington. Later in the quarter, Verner picked off Smith again, on a sideline pass to Santonio Holmes. The Titans (3-1) responded with a 16-yard TD pass from Locker to Justin Hunter.
But despite Smith's horrendous play, the Jets insisted it wasn't solely his fault.
"We got our butts kicked,'' Ryan said. "On this particular day, did he give us a chance to win? No. None of us did. We got beat across the board. It's not on one man and it will never be on one man. It's on all of us.''