FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Geno Smith didn't have to wait long to find out his fate.
The morning after the Jets benched the rookie quarterback during a game for the third time this season, Smith learned the starting job still was his. At least for another week.
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Offering the same assurances he once gave Mark Sanchez -- practically verbatim -- Rex Ryan expressed confidence in Smith's ability to bounce back from his latest poor outing.
"I'm going to go with Geno as our quarterback," Ryan announced yesterday. "I believe in Geno. I think he has the tools to be a good quarterback in this league."
Peppered by questions about Smith's regression, the coach insisted he gives the Jets (5-7) "the best chance to win." Though Ryan praised Matt Simms ("he battles like crazy -- always does"), Ryan made it clear that neither Simms nor No. 3 quarterback David Garrard were ever really options to start this week against the Raiders.
Even though Smith completed only 4 of 10 passes for 29 yards with an interception against the Dolphins, Ryan said the collaborative decision to stick with Smith wasn't based only on Sunday's outcome.
"If we're just looking at that tape, the option doesn't look that good for either guy," Ryan said of Smith and Simms, who was 9-for-18 for 79 yards with two turnovers. "But it's more than that."
Ryan said he found Smith's perseverance "impressive."
"I'm just waiting for him to have a great game," Ryan said, a day after the Jets' playoff hopes were all but crushed by the 23-3 loss. "I don't think there's a doubt he has it in him. So we'll find out soon enough. I think right now, he's our best shot."
Smith has thrown one touchdown pass and 11 interceptions in the seven games since the Jets defeated the Falcons in Week 5. Nevertheless, Smith said the news, which was delivered to him early Mondaymorning by quarterbacks coach David Lee, came as little surprise.
"Every day, I come in this building fully expecting to play. I prepare that way," said Smith, who, after finishing the first half with an 8.3 passer rating, was pulled in favor of Simms. "When I got the news, it wasn't a major reaction. I was going to go about this week the same as I've always done. I was going to prepare hard and get myself ready to play."
Smith said he wasn't nervous about the possibility of not starting this week and insisted he's still the right man to lead the Jets' offense.
"It's hard for people to believe that, with that tough stretch that we've had," he said. "But that's just the confidence I have in myself. And I know for a fact that my coaches and teammates have that same confidence in me, so that's why I believe that."
Simms, like Garrard, said he'll continue to support Smith. But Simms admitted, "When you get a little taste of the real action, all you want is more of it."
Asked for a self-assessment of his performance Sunday, the affable Simms joked: "I did enough to solidify I am the No. 2. At least I didn't play myself out of a job."
He also said his famous father, Phil, offered critiques of his own, although he preferred to keep much of their conversation private. "He was pleased I didn't make it worse," Simms said with a smile.