FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Marty Mornhinweg shouldered the blame for the Jets' red-zone issues and Geno Smith's struggles near the goal line in Monday night's loss to the Bears.
"I'm just simply putting too much on the young quarterback that's developing,'' the offensive coordinator said Thursday. "I just relied a little too much on him [in the red zone].
"And there will be a time -- hopefully very quickly -- where we can do that. But that game, looking back on it, I put just a little too much on his plate there, and I could have helped him a couple different ways.''
Mornhinweg wouldn't get into the specifics of how he could have helped Smith more, but he maintained he has "great confidence'' in him.
But he quickly added: "Maybe I had a little too much confidence last week.''
While fans and analysts have called for backup Michael Vick to replace Smith, who has four interceptions and two fumbles in three games, Mornhinweg explained the importance of patience. He also stated the obvious about the Jets' organizational goals this season.
"Look, we're right in the middle of developing a young quarterback,'' he said, adding that he wouldn't consider starting Vick. " . . . We're going to go through some ups and downs now. And when you go through a little dip, you've got to motor through it now. You've got to be pretty tough mentally. And we all have to do that together now.''
But the team is in a precarious position. After losing two straight, the Jets (1-2) are in must-win mode heading into Sunday's game against the Lions. And the longer it takes Smith to navigate the NFL learning curve, the worse it might be for their chances of making the playoffs.
But Mornhinweg stood firm, reiterating the organization's ultimate goal.
"We need to develop Geno,'' he said. "Listen, Geno is going to be just fine. Lookit, to be great, in many cases, you've got to go through some failures. And sometimes, it's on Monday night.''
After Smith threw a pick-6 on the second play from scrimmage, he responded by completing 14 of 18 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. But trailing 24-13 in the third quarter and on the Bears' 18-yard line, he lofted a first-down pass that was picked off in the end zone.
Mornhinweg never has been one to regret play calls, but he admitted that like Smith, he has to do a better job in the red zone. "We need to run the football better down there,'' he said. "It's just that simple.''
The Jets had 114 rushing yards, but on their final drive, they had six pass attempts -- and no running plays -- from the Bears' 20.
Smith, however, isn't absolved of blame. He had 26 completions and 43 pass attempts, both career highs, for 316 yards and a touchdown, but turnovers are "an issue,'' Mornhinweg said.
"Good quarterbacks take care of the ball,'' he said. "He simply has been too loose there.''
Nevertheless, he said he's confident Smith will improve, and Mornhinweg has no plans of disrupting his development -- for Vick or anyone else.
"Sometimes you have to go through some bad stuff to be great,'' Mornhinweg said. "So we're right in the middle of that process. And that learning curve . . . we all want it now. Now! But we just have to step back and look at the big picture.''