Geno Smith knows it is an open question, whether he is the Jets' quarterback of the future. In fact, no one knows who will even be making that decision. So all he can do is, in his words, "focus on what I'm going through right here and right now."
Right here, right now involves preparing the 2-11 team to play the fellow 2-11 Titans on Sunday in a game that could help determine if the Jets can finish poorly enough to draft his replacement. Marcus Mariota of Oregon, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, looms as a potential quarterback of the future for whoever picks first overall.
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That is not Smith's worry. Having been benched and reinstated and having played decently in Minnesota on Sunday, he is busy just keeping his chin up.
"I just trust in my faith, trust in my support system; my teammates, my coaches, my family members and just believing in [myself]," he said. "I have the utmost amount of confidence in myself and my teammates and I truly believe that we're going to be successful.
"It's almost exciting to think about all the room for improvement that we have," he said. "But at the same time, we've got to really hone in on the 'right now.' "
For Smith, though, there might not be enough "now" left to prevent being swept away in the blizzard of change that is expected after this season. A game against the Titans might not be a tremendous proving ground, either. Tennessee, 30th overall in offense in the NFL, is worst at interception percentage and third-down efficiency. The Jets, with their 25th-ranked offense, are last in net passing yards per game and per play.
"I've shown flashes of being a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback, but what we're looking for here is consistency. The best teams have consistent quarterback play and I realize that and that's truly what I want to show to the fans and everyone outside the building," Smith said Tuesday in Manhattan, as he distributed coats at a New York Cares coat drive in conjunction with the Coalition for the Homeless.
Unlike the Jets, the Titans might not be in the Mariota chase. Rookie Zach Mettenberger, who was injured against the Giants on Sunday and won't play against the Jets, did enough in six starts (all defeats) to make the team believe he might be its quarterback of the future. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday, "I think there is value in him being in as probably as tough a situation as you could be in."
Smith's most vocal supporter in the Jets locker room, Sheldon Richardson, believes Smith can handle any situation, too. "He comes in poised, no matter how bad the game is or how bad of a game he has," the defensive lineman said. "Even though he does decent and some people think he's doing horrible, he's still the same guy at the end of the day."
The quarterback who wants to be a great playmaker was a day-maker for the homeless Tuesday.("I'm truly a giver at heart. I genuinely care about the well-being of the people that we're serving today," he said.) And he does believe he belongs in New York.
"If anyone wants to know if I'm the future or the franchise [quarterback], you can just look at the way I've handled myself in the face of adversity," he said.
"Success is easy to handle at times, but I think the true test of a man is how he handles himself when things aren't going as well."
With Brian Heyman