New York Jets' Curtis Martin poses with his bust as...

New York Jets' Curtis Martin poses with his bust as he is honored at halftime of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills. (Sept. 9, 2012) Credit: AP

Count Curtis Martin among the people who believe in the Jets' potential.

The Hall of Fame running back and former Jet said Monday that he thinks the team is "moving forward" and is "pretty positive" they can improve on their 8-8 season in 2013.

"Do I think they have work to do? Yes," Martin said at a Super Bowl event atop the Empire State Building. "Do I think they can get it done? Yes."

Martin, who played for the Jets from 1998 until his retirement in 2005, was bullish on quarterback Geno Smith, who finished his rookie season on a high note after an up-and-down season. Smith threw for 3,046 yards with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions after being taken in the second round of the NFL draft last April.

Martin, the fourth leading rusher in NFL history with 14,101 yards, said Smith "could be the answer" under center and chalked up Smith's inconsistency to the usual rookie transition.

Martin said that Smith's maturation will depend on "how well he can prepare, how hard he trains and how well he comes to know the game," noting that playing quarterback in the NFL "is really a mental position where you just have to understand all the moving pieces.

"I think he has all the ability in the world," Martin said. "I think he's as talented as anyone, but it'll be interesting to see how his football IQ develops over the years."

Aside from Smith, Martin said that the Jets have the pieces in place and that bringing back head coach Rex Ryan was the right move.

"I think you want to have some familiar faces in the building and not an entirely cleaned-out house," Martin said of Ryan, who has posted three straight non-winning seasons after guiding the Jets to consecutive AFC Championship games in his first two seasons.

"I think that Rex has the respect [of his team]," said Martin, who had 10,302 rushing yards and 60 touchdowns with the Jets. "He gives that team the passion to play, and I think his guys will play for him."

More Jets

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months