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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Despite Geno Smith's mistakes, it is not time for Michael Vick

Michael Vick #1 of the Jets looks on

Michael Vick #1 of the Jets looks on during a game against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

In answer to your question: No.

Geno Smith had a bad game -- a mostly awful game, really -- but no, it is not time for Rex Ryan to go to Michael Vick. Not yet, anyway.

Smith was shades of "bad Geno" from last year's rookie season, throwing a pick-6 on his first pass in Monday night's 27-19 loss to the Bears, throwing another interception on first down from the Bears' 18 with the Jets down by two scores, and throwing what should have been another one on the Jets' final drive.

By any measure, Smith had one of his poorest games. But this is no time to panic -- not at 1-2 and coming off losses to the Packers and Bears in which the Jets were within one score at the end. They nearly tied it last week against the Packers when Smith completed what appeared to be a touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley, but it was called back because the Jets had asked for a timeout. Smith nearly completed another fourth-down pass to Kerley for a late TD against the Bears, but he couldn't keep his feet in the end zone.

Ryan was asked if he'd consider giving Vick some extra practice time this week, and while the coach didn't offer a flat-out denial, he later explained why he wouldn't commit to anything. "I'm never going to say no," Ryan said. "I learned that from you guys."

No, it is not the time for Ryan to make a change, not this early in the season and not with Smith needing a chance to work out his problems. That's the way it works with quarterback development; you don't react too quickly when they struggle, especially with young quarterbacks as they work through their issues.

There were plenty of issues for Smith Monday night. His first pass should have been thrown at tailback Chris Johnson's feet instead of the waiting arms of Bears cornerback Ryan Mundy. Smith saw that Johnson was bracketed by two defenders while running a screen, and he shouldn't have thrown into traffic. Instead, Smith forced the ball, and Mundy stepped in front of Johnson and picked it off, returning the interception 45 yards for a touchdown just 32 seconds into the game.

Smith settled down and got the Jets to within 17-13 by halftime, and he had the offense moving deep inside Bears territory in the third quarter. On first down from the Chicago 18, he scrambled out of trouble and saw David Nelson in the end zone, covered tightly by cornerback Kyle Fuller. Smith needed to either throw the ball out of the end zone or put it in a spot where only Nelson could catch it. Instead, Smith floated the ball, and Fuller came down with it.

It was one of several poorly executed plays inside the red zone, which the Jets visited six times. But those six trips produced only one TD. "We've got to figure that out right now. It starts with myself," Smith said. "We were 1-for-6. We don't expect to ever go 1-for-6. We hold ourselves to a higher standard, and that starts with me."

With more difficult games coming up, Smith has to get better in a hurry. Up next are the improved Lions at home on Sunday, then it's at the Chargers, home to the Broncos and at the Patriots. It is a brutal schedule that will require competent play from the quarterback, and Smith knows it.

He also knows that patience will not be unlimited, especially with the 34-year-old Vick on the bench, save for a couple of Wildcat plays. But you don't react to a bad game by a young quarterback by sitting him; you make a change only when there is a more prolonged struggle.

Smith doesn't plan on that happening.

"You watch football, [interceptions] happen to every quarterback," he said. "As far as a step back, there's no step back."

A few more games like the one Monday night, and the conversation will change. So does the answer to the question about whether it's time for Vick.

Now is not that time.

New York Sports