SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The stage is set for Geno Smith to prove his coaches right.
The Jets quarterback says he's ready to turn the page on his drama-filled week, but the only thing that will quiet the questions about his long-term future with the franchise is a win over the Chargers on Sunday.
The Jets (1-3) -- who have lost three straight games -- must figure out how to attack Philip Rivers, the NFL's top-rated passer (114.5) through four games. He has completed 96 of 137 passes (70.1 percent) for 1,155 yards.
Meanwhile, Smith has a 68.5 QB rating in the Jets' three losses, completing 59 of 108 passes (54.6 percent) for 701 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. And there's a chance the struggling Smith could be without two key receivers, Eric Decker (hamstring) and David Nelson (ankle).
Some have called for Rex Ryan to replace Smith with Michael Vick, and Ryan -- who continues to show faith in Smith -- reiterated during the past week that roster moves are a "Jet decision.'' But he tried to save face on Wednesday by pointing out his personnel power during games.
"Obviously, in my position as the head coach, you are going to make decisions during a game -- who else is going to make them?'' Ryan said.
While offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said there's "no question'' that Vick still can play at a high level, he made it clear that his approach to handling quarterbacks is slow and steady.
"You have to allow people to rebound,'' he said when asked why he wouldn't want to make a switch if Smith isn't playing well. " . . . I am slow-moving typically with the quarterback deal, because I think a lot of times you'll see people give up right before it happens. I just don't understand that mentality there.''
But in recent years, the Jets haven't had the best quarterback play. When reminded that Smith and predecessor Mark Sanchez (who was released in March) have totaled 86 turnovers in the past 52 games, Ryan said: "Obviously, that's an alarming stat. And it's probably one of the reasons we haven't had the success that we've all wanted to have.
"We have to take care of the football. We all know that. And it's much easier said than done. But I know the emphasis is there. I know the work ethic of these guys is there. It's just a matter of us getting it together. And I think we're close. I think we're a lot closer than people think.''
It's only Week 5, but with the Broncos and Patriots on the horizon, this game certainly is an important one for the Jets to win. But the game has even more significance for Smith.
"Obviously, I'm getting better,'' said Smith, who was fined $12,000 Friday for yelling an expletive at a heckling fan last week. "But it's all about wins and losses and I'm trying my best to help us win these games, so I'm going to be extra critical on myself this week to make sure that I have to be nearly perfect in order to help us win games.''