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Geno Smith still starting, but his job is less secure

Geno Smith reacts after throwing his third interception

Geno Smith reacts after throwing his third interception against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Nov. 17, 2013) Credit: Getty

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Geno Smith is on the clock. And the Jets' rookie quarterback might be running out of time.

Smith still has the confidence of his coach but it's now become impossible to overlook his underwhelming, and sometimes awful, performances the past month.

A day after the Jets' 37-14 loss at Buffalo, Rex Ryan insisted that Smith is still his guy.

"I've watched the tape," the coach said Monday, "and I think, without question, Geno will start this [next] game."

Ryan did say, however, that there's "a possibility" No. 2 quarterback Matt Simms could get more reps in practice this week as they prepare for the Ravens. Smith, meanwhile, isn't concerned about having just six games left to prove himself.

"I haven't seen a timer on that, so no I don't have any concerns," he said, drawing a few laughs from the media.

In the meantime, Ryan continues to search for answers he doesn't have. The Jets (5-5) are the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses for the first 10 games. In order to reach the playoffs, everyone on the roster (save members of their defensive line) has to play better.

But the biggest culprit has been Smith. His passer rating through the first five games was 80.3, but 48.0 in the last five. His rookie season statistics are almost identical to those of Mark Sanchez, the former face of the Jets franchise who is on injured reserve after shoulder surgery. In 2009, Sanchez had 16 interceptions and three fumbles in his first 10 games. So far, Smith has 16 INTs and four fumbles.

But the rookie -- who threw three interceptions (including a pick-6) and was sacked four times against the Bills -- doesn't believe he's regressing.

"I don't think statistics tell every single part of the story," said Smith, who was just 8-for-23 for 103 yards. "Obviously, I don't want my stats to look like that, don't want to play like that, but I've gotten better. I've become a smarter player. I've just made poor decisions in some situations in the game."

His decisions were so poor Sunday that he was benched in the fourth quarter in favor of Simms, who went 4-for-6 for 60 yards and a touchdown. But Simms expressed nothing but confidence in Smith's ability to rebound and contentment in his role as a backup.

"I'm the second quarterback," Simms said. "Obviously, everyone's a fan of the backup quarterback when something goes wrong. I'm very well aware of that."

Ryan called Smith's mistakes Sunday "glaring," but he also highlighted the "equally glaring" mistakes of his offensive line ("guys losing one-on-one battles up front that we're really not accustomed to seeing") and his wide receivers ("Quite honestly, we have to get open. We weren't getting separation.").

There will come a time when the Jets must make a decision on Smith's long-term future. But until then, Smith said he's not worrying about his job security. "I don't, honestly," he said. "That's up to the coaches . . . Obviously, I want to be the starter here. I never want to come out of games, never want to not play in a game, but I've got to take care of what I can control, which is practicing hard and working and going out and executing on game day."

Smith, as always, took full responsibility for his team's latest loss. And he didn't seem the least bit surprised that his job status has been called into question again. "In the NFL, everyone's job is on the line," he said. "Every single person. And that's day to day. No one's job is 100 percent secured.

"So it's just up to us to continue to go out there and work hard and do as we always have done, which is to bounce back from tough losses."

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