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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Fumbling team meeting latest sign that Geno Smith, Rex Ryan are in downward spiral

Rex Ryan talks to Geno Smith before a

Rex Ryan talks to Geno Smith before a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Sept. 8, 2013) Credit: AP

That's quite a run for Geno Smith, who goes from apologizing for cursing out a fan after a Week 4 home loss to the Lions to apologizing to his coaches and teammates for missing a team meeting the day before Sunday's humiliating 31-0 loss in San Diego.

What in the name of Ryan Leaf is going on around here?

Even by the Jets' standards of misery, this has been an abysmal time for Smith and look-the-other-way coach Rex Ryan, who absolved the team leader for failing to show up at the meeting because he was confused by the West Coast time change.

This 1-4 start is starting to look and feel like the Rich Kotite years -- something we would never wish on even the most obnoxious NFL fan -- and two more losses against the Broncos on Sunday and the Patriots the following Thursday would only add to the soul-crushing gloom.

Ryan seems blissfully unaware that his season is in the process of imploding, and with it his head-coaching run here. Even on Monday, after surveying the previous day's wreckage on video, he said there were plenty of good individual performances by his players. The punting game was fine. So was the play of defensive linemen Leger Douzable, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, he said.

But even the ever-optimistic Ryan couldn't make this look good, not after his team followed in its quarterback's footsteps and failed to show up.

Ryan's handling of Smith is indicative of how poorly the coach has performed this year. He announced immediately after the game that Smith will be the starter against Peyton Manning's Broncos on Sunday. Not once did he entertain the thought that Smith might need a seat on the bench just to gather himself after a month's worth of losing and a daily dose of back-page material.

There are times when players start drowning in their own struggles, when their confidence is so shot and their frustration level is so off-the-charts-high that keeping them in the lineup is counterproductive.

Judging from what Smith is going through now, both on and off the field, he looks to be at that stage. And with a viable alternative behind him in Michael Vick, Ryan needs to consider a change. For his team's sake. And for Smith's sake.

Smith lost his composure after the Lions game by cursing at a fan, but missing a meeting while seeing a movie the day before a game was an even bigger misstep. What quarterback misses a team meeting? Ever?

Ryan covered for him by saying that Smith had never previously missed a meeting and that he's usually the first one in the room. But Smith forgot to adjust his schedule to take the three-hour time change into account, was contacted by a team official and showed up five minutes after the meeting had ended.

Ryan said Smith felt terrible about it. But there were zero consequences for him, except for having to pay a perfunctory fine.

Sorry. If you're a team leader and you whiff on a meeting the day before a big game against a strong opponent -- in the midst of a three-game losing streak, no less -- that's a problem.

"It was an honest mistake and he got confused,'' Ryan said. "I believe it's just a one-time thing, but it was just an honest mistake.''

Sorry. That's the wrong time for an honest mistake. Especially when you take into account how poorly Smith played. He was 4-for-12 for 27 yards in the first half, never even getting past midfield. He may not have gotten much help from his offensive line, but Smith showed disturbing signs of regression, the kind that often necessitate a view from the bench. Sitting him has become a viable option. He is drowning in his mistakes.

When Ryan yanked Smith at halftime and replaced him with Vick, who didn't have the benefit of a single snap with the first-team offense during practice, the results weren't much better.

Ryan announced a few minutes after the game that Smith will be back as the starter against the Broncos, and he explained Monday that he made the decision quickly because he didn't want any uncertainty to become a distraction.

With his play and behavior, Smith has done a good job of creating distractions. If Ryan isn't willing to take stronger measures to reprimand him and send a message to the team that it's not acceptable, he will have to live with the consequences.

Unless things change in a hurry, those consequences will be more and more losses, an increasingly beleaguered young quarterback and a pink slip for the coach at season's end.

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