FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Geno Smith just shrugged and smiled.
For the second straight offseason, he was ranked the NFL's worst quarterback in an ESPN poll that most recently included the opinions of 35 NFL insiders, including league executives and coaches. But the Jets' signal-caller simply waved off the criticism on Wednesday.
"I laugh at that, man," Smith said hours after he and his teammates reported to the team's New Jersey practice facility for training camp. "I laugh at it. It's hilarious.
"It was hilarious last year, too," he added. "It doesn't matter at this point. We've got to work on us as a team. That's why I hate to talk about individual stuff because it's a team game. No matter what they rate me, wherever we finish at the end of the year is most important."
Smith refuses to focus on his past struggles. Instead, he would rather look to the future -- one that, he believes, is bright thanks to the roster additions of receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
But in order for the Jets to be playoff-bound in 2015, they'll need quality quarterback play. And if Smith expects to keep his starting job against veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, he has to be on his game. And, according to him, he will be.
"I just think I've been improving overall," said Smith, who is 11-18 as a starter and has committed 41 turnovers the past two seasons. "Going into my third year, I'm definitely a different player than I was when I came in. Definitely a different guy.
"I expect to do well. I expect our team to do well. And I understand that it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of hard work."
Asked specifically how he's gotten better, the 24-year-old said,"Well, for one, I'm older. I've just got a lot more experience, a lot more things that I know. You don't know what you don't know, I guess you could say that. I've learned a lot over the course of these two or three years and I'm just getting better overall. I think I have a better understanding of what's expected. With that being said, I just want to go out there and continue to lead."
With the Jets' reloaded roster, it's not hard to see why expectations are high for this year's team -- especially on defense. But Smith and his teammates did their best on Wednesday to temper expectations.
"On paper, it sounds really nice," said the quarterback, who worked out this offseason with a few of his receivers, including Marshall and Eric Decker. "We have a team that we expect to do well, but it's going to take a lot of hard work and I expect us to go out there and put the work in, too."
Although he's the incumbent quarterback, Smith knows he has to earn his spot.
"I definitely have a lot to prove," he said. "We all have something to prove, not just myself. We were a 4-12 team last year, so we have a lot to prove. We're on the climb, but we've got to keep working."
Notes & quotes: Muhammad Wilkerson reported to training camp but did not speak to reporters . . . G Willie Colon (knee), RB Stevan Ridley (knee) and DT Kevin Vickerson (hamstring) have been placed on the Active/PUP list.