Jets quarterback Geno Smith carries the ball against the San...

Jets quarterback Geno Smith carries the ball against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on Oct. 5, 2014 in San Diego. Credit: Getty Images / Stephen Dunn

How bad were the Jets here Sunday?

This bad:

Geno Smith quarterbacked a dysfunctional offense, finished with a 7.6 passer rating and got yanked at halftime, but when coach Rex Ryan announced that Smith will start against Denver in Week 6, somehow it actually made sense.

That is because if we learned nothing else in watching the Jets' 31-0 humiliation against the Chargers, it is that this team's problems extend far, far beyond the quarterback position.

"This wasn't on him; he wasn't the guy out there blocking or blowing assignments or doing whatever," Ryan said.

Later, he added the money quote: "It could have been Joe Namath and it wouldn't have been any different today."

Sure, that's standard-issue coach-speak for quarterback messes such as this, but it was true.

It was difficult to evaluate Smith fairly when he was under siege from the San Diego pass rush, when the running game was kaput, when the receiving corps was starkly underwhelming with Eric Decker out injured.

Of course, it also was difficult to evaluate Vick fairly after he came into an impossible situation in the second half, but there was no indication he is the answer.

The Jets are 1-4 and going nowhere fast. It is highly likely the quarterback who will lead them to their first Super Bowl since 1969 is not currently on the roster. (Sorry, Matt Simms.)

There isn't much downside to sticking it out with Smith and hoping for the best, or at least something better.

Asked pointedly whether his first priority is winning or developing Smith, Ryan said, "To win, always." Then he added a crucial point: "We don't want just Geno developing. We want all of our players developing."

That is the only reason to consider Vick -- that if he can stabilize things, he might foster a more positive environment for other young players to develop in time for the next quarterback of the future to arrive.

But that is a pipe dream at this point. Smith has proved to be functional in the past, and it is impossible for him and his teammates to remain as bad as they were against the Chargers, so why not stay the course and hope for a minor miracle?

Smith was stoic in the face of being pulled, admitting he was upset but also admitting he had no case to argue. "I didn't need an explanation and I didn't ask for one," he said. "Obviously, I didn't like it and I never want to be pulled from the game, but I just had to adjust my mind-set and try to support the guys."

His self-evaluation: "It was definitely a pathetic showing on my part and I don't think I helped at any part of the game. So what I'm going to do is look myself in the mirror, and I know every guy in the locker room is going to do the same thing and find a way to get better."

Vick picked up some passing yards in garbage time but still ended up only 8-for-19 for 47 yards. (Smith was 4-for-12 for 27, with an interception.)

Vick said he was just hoping to generate "some type of spark" despite the dire circumstances.

"We didn't score any points, and that's the evaluation right there," he said. "We didn't get into the red zone until the fourth quarter, and that's totally unacceptable."

Ryan, Smith and Vick all could be afterthoughts by this time next season, assuming John Idzik is able to come up with some other bright idea.

For much of Sunday's debacle, the general manager put his head down between plays, taking copious notes in the press box. It was not clear what he was writing.

Curse words? Doodles? A list of potential head-coaching candidates? Plays that might actually work?

Idzik left the press box midway through the fourth quarter, presumably having seen enough.

Just like the rest of us.