Jets still believe in mistake-prone Geno Smith

The Tennessee Titans' Karl Klug strips the ball The Tennessee Titans' Karl Klug strips the ball loose from Geno Smith during a game at LP Field. (Sept. 29, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets aren't giving up on Geno Smith. Even with all of his misreads, turnovers and questionable decisions with the football, the players and their coach reiterated they haven't lost faith in their rookie quarterback.

At least for the moment, Rex Ryan laid to rest any speculation that he's considering benching Smith after a rocky trip to Tennessee ended with a 38-13 loss. "It's not a thought at this point right now,'' Ryan said.

But while the Jets (2-2) still believe in Smith's ability, a frustrated Ryan stressed Monday that "a lot of different things'' need to be fixed. And that includes the quarterback play.

"I understand that you can't buy experience, but we still have to do a much better job, Geno in particular. We have to protect the football at all costs,'' said Ryan, who pointed to Smith's "nonchalant'' ball protection.

While he "absolutely'' believes Smith will improve, he added: "I think sometimes it's something that you have to see. I don't think there's any doubt it's going to get better."

Smith, whose four turnovers led to 28 Titans points, agreed. "As far as the turnovers go, we have to stop that,'' said Smith, who has 11 of the Jets' 12 giveaways.

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Smith was so disappointed that he felt compelled to take ownership of his mistakes in the locker room Sunday night. "I felt I owed the defense an apology,'' he said. "They work their butts off to be one of the best in the league . . . and they've bailed us out time and time again.''

The gesture went over well with his teammates.

"You've got to love it from him,'' Jeremy Kerley said Sunday. "Him being the leader and coming around telling guys he'll get better, it says a lot about his character. And you've got guys in this locker room who'll stand up and fight for him.''

But it wasn't all Smith's fault.

Guard Willie Colon said the line, which allowed five sacks, feels responsible for "a lot'' of Smith's mistakes. "It's not just him making bad reads. It's a total offensive blip -- a guy here, a guy there. We've got to do a more solid job up front.''

The Jets also must cut down on penalties after committing 30 the past two games.

Ryan hinted that schematic changes may be in store.

"Are we putting our players in the best situation?'' he said. "We've got to take a hard look. Not just with the players, but the coaches. Whether it's offense, defense, special teams, how can we give our guys opportunities to be successful?''

It's becoming less and less certain the Jets will have Mark Sanchez as a safety net. The quarterback -- on injured reserve with a designation to return after tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder in preseason -- chose to rehab. But surgery remains a very real possibility for Sanchez.

For now, Smith remains the best option. And he's determined to limit his turnovers and be a game manager.

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"Playing these four games have given me confidence, but it's also been an eye-opener for me,'' he said, adding that his role is far different from what it was at West Virginia. "I'm not asked to score as many points. As long as I take care of the ball, keep managing the game, keep us in good situations, we'll have a chance.''

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