Even as Geno Smith has endured a wildly uneven rookie season as the Jets' quarterback, never has talk of benching him risen above a dull roar.
That is partly because everyone understands that the Jets must learn all they can about Smith before the offseason, and partly because his primary backup is largely an unknown quantity.
Even Matt Simms is not quite sure what to expect of himself until he gets more opportunities to show what he can do. But he is quite sure that he is more prepared to step in now than he was several months ago.
"I've definitely grown as a player and as a person, and from where I started in this whole process all the way back to OTAs to now, I feel like I've made tremendous strides," he said after practice Friday.
"The fact I'm still here, the fact I'm still the No. 2, to me those are all goals I had in the offseason and goals that I have been able to accomplish this year. So in that respect, it's been a solid year. I've shown improvement.
"I've worked on the finer details of my game when I've had the opportunity to and I've also had an opportunity to get out there and play, which has been awesome. I'm extremely grateful for it. Big picture, it's been a very good year."
Simms has appeared in three games in place of an ineffective Smith, completing 16 of 31 passes for 156 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also has rushed five times for 37 yards, fumbling once.
Despite the fact that he is the son and brother of former NFL quarterbacks Phil and Chris, Simms knows he has more to prove than most young NFL quarterbacks because of his thin college resume at Louisville and Tennessee.
"With my career and how I got here, being a free agent [who went undrafted], as a free agent, I have to continually show that I'm getting better, that I can grow and I can be coached and just continue to improve," he said. "Falling into that place, that's just all about timing and just being there at the right time at the right moment, just like it was for a guy like Tom Brady or Tony Romo, all those guys.
"Even McCown now. He was in the league for 10 years, then went missing for a year and a half, and now he's back again and now he's going to be in the league for another three years.
"The biggest thing is I have made it. I'm in the big game. Now the key is just how long can I stay here and what do I need to do to continue to stay here and make sure that I improve."
Simms, 25, appears to have the arm and head to succeed, so what does he feel he needs to break through?
"The key for me and really any young quarterback . . . is I need experience," he said. "How do you get experience? Well, you get experience by playing and just getting that shot. And I've shown that when I do get more experience, the better I do.
"That's the key for anybody. How does anybody get experience in the league? Everyone says, 'Oh, we need a veteran.' At the same time, you can't always bring in veterans. Obviously, our clock is always ticking, and the way to get better is to get out there and get more experience and do it more often."
Simms expects to be evaluated by the coaching staff after the season, but he said the coaches have done a good job as the year has progressed in advising him what he's doing right and wrong.
Through it all, they have maintained enough confidence in him to dress him as the backup for every game, even ahead of veteran David Garrard.
"To me, it indicates they still believe in me, they still have that trust in me that I will do the job the way they want it done," he said. "I take tremendous pride every day in coming in and earning the No. 2 spot. I mean, David Garrard was my hero growing up because I was a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, strangely enough. Well, I was a huge Mark Brunell fan, so it kind of turned into that.
"So yeah, the fact I come to work every day with a guy like him who's done it in this league for so many years and I can keep improving and show them I am the No. 2, I take tremendous pride in that."