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Geno Smith missed team meeting ahead of Jets' 31-0 loss

Jets quarterback Geno Smith warms up before a

Jets quarterback Geno Smith warms up before a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 28, 2014 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Credit: Getty Images / Evan Habeeb

While the Jets were in a team meeting Saturday night in San Diego, Geno Smith was taking in a movie just a few blocks away. It wasn't until 30 minutes into the film that the quarterback realized he had somewhere else to be.

Eight days after expressing regret about cursing at a fan, Smith apologized for missing a mandatory team meeting because of confusion over a three-hour time zone change and a lack of cellphone service inside the theater.

"I just felt really bad,'' a dejected Smith said on a conference call Monday. "I let a lot of people down, and that's definitely not in my character to not be on time for a meeting.''

Less than 24 hours after what Smith called an "honest mistake,'' he was benched at halftime in favor of Michael Vick and the Jets (1-4) endured the first NFL shutout of the season, 31-0, to the Chargers.

In fairness, NFL pregame meetings are quite brief compared with the meetings during the week. Smith -- who realized his mistake only after he left the theater to phone a teammate -- arrived five or 10 minutes after Saturday's meeting ended. But he was able to review the first 15 plays with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and watch video with quarterbacks coach David Lee.

Smith said he thought he was on East Coast time "when we were actually on West Coast time.'' He also declined to say which movie he was watching.

"I felt terrible about it,'' he said. "In my opinion, it was an honest mistake. But mistakes are, obviously, things that can't happen.''

Smith wasn't the only Jet who arrived late to Saturday's meeting, but Rex Ryan would not identify the others. Smith's absence comes on the heels of his being fined $12,000 last week for cursing at a heckling fan and making headlines for bristling at questions about the possibility of playing Vick for an entire quarter.

"I would say it's uncharacteristic,'' Smith said, referring to recent events. "I'm not the guy that's always in the tabloids. I like to stay low-key. But I've made some mistakes the last two weeks. And I'm aware of it.

"I've also caused a distraction for my teammates by doing so. So my first thing was to apologize to them because we're focused on one thing and one thing only, and that's football.''

Center Nick Mangold acknowledged Smith's absence as a quarterback is "unacceptable,'' but he also defended Smith, who had a 7.6 passer rating at halftime.

"In the future, I don't expect that to come up again,'' Mangold said. "I think it wasn't just on Geno, this past game . . . We had about a million other reasons that contributed to it.''

The Jets face a daunting challenge: Peyton Manning and the Broncos, and then Tom Brady and the Patriots on a short week. But Smith isn't fazed.

"My confidence is sky-high,'' he said. "But I've got to produce. I've got to have the great games that I've done before. But we've been just struggling as a team right now.''

Before the Jets could turn their focus to the Broncos, however, they had to address their glaring mistakes from Sunday's blowout and the latest Smith incident.

"As far as the discipline, we have things in place when meetings are missed,'' Ryan said, although he wouldn't disclose details. "And he'll be treated no different than any other player.''

Although Ryan said everyone was "shocked'' by Smith's absence Saturday night, he stressed it was "an honest mistake.''

"He got confused,'' Ryan said, adding that veteran players don't like changing schedules to West Coast time. "We had on the schedule East Coast time, and I think for whatever reason that got him.''

New York Sports