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Geno Smith’s goal is to compete for starting QB job

Jets backup quarterback Geno Smith during pregame as

Jets backup quarterback Geno Smith during pregame as the New York Jets take on the New England Patriots on Dec. 27, 2015 at MetLife Stadium. Credit: Lee Weissman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Calling this season a “humbling experience,” Geno Smith said he still believes he has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

The day after watching from the sideline as the Jets’ season ended with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing three late interceptions in a loss to Buffalo, Smith said he is not content to remain a backup.

“I’m not getting any younger,” Smith, 25, said Monday. “When I came in, from day one I wanted to play. That’s never going to change. I want to be out there. I want to compete.”

Smith, the Jets’ starter in his first two seasons, had his season derailed Aug. 11 when then-teammate IK Enemkpali punched him in the face during a locker-room dispute. Enemkpali broke Smith’s jaw, and Fitzpatrick took over as the starter. He threw a career-high and franchise-record 31 touchdown passes with 15 interceptions, helping to lead the Jets to a 10-6 record, their best in five years. Fitzpatrick will be a free agent this offseason.

Coach Todd Bowles said it is a “pretty high” priority to re-sign Fitzpatrick and added that if he comes back, he will be the starter. Bowles seems to want Smith back, presumably in a backup role. “I like Geno as a quarterback and as a person as well,” he said. “I thought he matured as a quarterback and a person. I’m proud of what he did this year.”

Smith has a year left on his rookie contract, and it’s possible the Jets could retain him to be Fitzpatrick’s backup. When asked if he would request a trade to a team for which he might have a better chance of starting, Smith said: “That’s a very hypothetical question. I don’t really know how to answer that. I haven’t done it yet.”

Smith called this season a growing experience, saying it made him a better player and person. He appeared in one game, a Nov. 1 loss in Oakland after Fitzpatrick suffered a thumb injury. Smith threw for 265 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in that 34-20 defeat.

“I’m extremely competitive,” Smith said. “I was put in a tough situation this year and I did my best to handle it. I didn’t play. Probably the first time I haven’t played since I was 8 years old.”

Smith said his year on the sideline is something he will think about as he works out in the offseason.

“I’m not going to change the way I go about things, because I’ve always worked hard and had the right mind-set,’’ he said. “I’m going to continue to do that but work 10 times harder because I have 10 times the motivation.”

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