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Geno Smith missing meeting not the reason Jets lost, Wilkerson says

The Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson celebrates a sack during

The Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson celebrates a sack during the first half of a game against the Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

While outrage exists outside of One Jets Drive over Geno Smith's time-zone mix-up over the weekend, Muhammad Wilkerson said Jets players aren't upset about their quarterback missing a pre-game meeting Saturday night in San Diego.

"It was a mistake on his behalf. And things like that happen," Wilkerson, the Jets' defensive leader, said Tuesday during his weekly WFAN radio spot. "He got mixed up with the times. That's something we can't say that was what caused us to lose the game. You've just got to focus on the game. That was a mistake by him, like I said, and that's not like Geno to be late for anything. So that has nothing do with anything."

While the Jets were in a mandatory pre-game team meeting Saturday night in San Diego, Smith was at the movies. He called it an "honest mistake" and said his absence was due to confusion over a three-hour time zone change. He arrived five or 10 minutes after the team 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 in separate meetings.

"I just felt really bad," Smith said on a Monday conference call, the day after the Jets (1-4) were embarrassed 31-0 by the Chargers (4-1). "I let a lot of people down, and that's definitely not in my character to not be on time for a meeting."

It wasn't until 30 minutes into the film - after he had left the movie theater to call a teammate -- that the Jets' starting quarterback realized he had confused East and West coast times when looking at the meeting schedule.

Though Smith wasn't the only player who arrived late to the meeting, head coach Rex Ryan came under fire for starting the struggling quarterback against the Chargers. But Wilkerson said players weren't upset that Smith wasn't benched to start the game.

Ryan wouldn't identify the other players who were tardy.

While the spotlight continues to shine brightly on Smith - who was fined $12,000 last week for cursing at a heckling fan - Sunday's loss showed there is a lot wrong with the 2014 Jets. But Wilkerson remains confident that he and his teammates can save their season.

"No, I'm not worried at all," he said. "We're going through adversity. We can put our heads in between our legs right now and lose the rest of this season, or we can keep coming in each and every day to work hard. And look forward to one of these Sundays, everything will roll our way ... and we'll start getting these Ws. We still got a whole bunch of games in front of us. Now is not the time to crack and turn our backs toward each other or start pointing the finger."

After Sunday's loss, linebacker Demario Davis told reporters "we're not practicing like a championship football team," adding that he doesn't see "a lot of guys putting a lot of effort into film study."

Wilkerson on Tuesday called the Jets' shutout performance "terrible," but said he doesn't see an issue with the team's weekly preparation.

"Well, I think we do a good job of practicing during the week," he said. "And, like I said after the game Sunday, we're professionals. This is our job. So as far as watching film, you get paid to play football and that's your job to watch film. So if guys are not doing their jobs, they're not watching film, obviously it'll show that they're not in-tune to what's going on come game time. But I think we do a good job throughout the week of practicing and preparing."

Wilkerson also defended his head coach by saying Ryan had the team fully prepared for their latest road game.

"We were prepared. It's just, at the end of the day, it's just a matter of us executing. We've got to make plays," the former first-round pick said. "They made plays and we didn't.

"Nine times out of 10, any team, if you lose in all three phases then you're going to lose the game. So we've got to do a better job of executing and somehow working out our game plan to make it work for us."


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