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Rex Ryan benches Geno Smith in favor of Michael Vick

Michael Vick #1 of the Jets looks on

Michael Vick #1 of the Jets looks on during a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Jim McIsaac

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For weeks, Rex Ryan had stuck by the struggling Geno Smith, but the quarterback's ghastly performance in Sunday's blowout by the Bills forced Ryan's hand.

On Monday, Ryan announced that Michael Vick will start Sunday in Kansas City.

"I feel, right now, this is the right move,'' Ryan said a day after Smith was benched in favor of Vick after throwing three interceptions in a span of six snaps in the first quarter of a 43-23 loss to Buffalo.

It was a decision he had to make for the sake of his 1-7 team and his own credibility. Some may argue it was a move the Jets should have made long before they played themselves out of postseason contention with seven consecutive losses.

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Ryan termed it an "organizational'' move, but a source told Newsday that the front office gave him the final call on who should start against the Chiefs (4-3).

Vick also had turnover problems after replacing Smith, losing two fumbles and throwing an interception. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 153 yards and gained 69 yards on eight runs as he led the Jets to 23 points.

Vick, who had taken only scout-team reps this season, will have "an opportunity to work extensively with the first-team offense,'' Ryan said. The move also will allow Smith to "take a step back for the first time in his career.''

Smith, who said he heard the news directly from Ryan, gave a terse response when asked for his reaction.

"There was none. I just went on with my day,'' he said on a conference call. He later said he is "obviously frustrated because it happened.''

Smith also said he was "a little'' surprised to hear that Vick will start, "but that's something that you have to expect, especially with the way I performed in the previous game.''

Vick, 34, said he will "relish'' the chance to start again, "but also, at the same time, take it extremely serious.'' He started six games for the Eagles last year, compiling a 2-4 record.

Like Ryan, Vick agreed that Smith will benefit from being a spectator.

"Geno and I both talked and we just decided it was a great opportunity for him to sit back, learn and catch his breath,'' Vick said on a separate conference call.

"He never really had a chance to sit back and watch [an] older guy or have an opportunity to really be that student of the game. Who knows how long this will last, but I just think right now this is a chance for him to sit back and learn vicariously.''

Smith has thrown 31 interceptions and only 19 touchdown passes in 24 games since being drafted 39th overall in 2013. But Ryan didn't come close to closing the door on starting Smith again this season.

"This is not looking long- term,'' Ryan said. "This is about the immediate. My focus is on that. It's on Kansas City and trying to find a way to get a win. That's why this decision was made.''

Vick will become the 27th quarterback to start for the Jets since Joe Namath's final game in 1976. The Jets haven't come any closer to finding a permanent solution at the position since Ryan became coach in 2009. Yet he said he still believes he has "two quarterbacks that can play.''

Smith believes "without a doubt'' that he still can be a franchise quarterback. He knows he has no choice but to make the most of his time on the bench.

"It's not an ideal situation, but I've got to use it to my advantage,'' said Smith, who later said his throwing shoulder, which he injured Sunday, is sore but not seriously injured.

"I'm a tough guy. I can deal with it,'' he said. "It's not the worst thing that has happened to me in my life.

"With that being said, I'm going to take every mental rep that I can and I'm going to use this opportunity to get better and help my teammates get better.''

New York Sports