Rex Ryan finally admitted what we've known all along: Geno Smith will be the Jets' Week 1 starter against the Oakland Raiders.
The anticlimactic announcement came after a losing effort against the Giants in Friday night's Snoopy Bowl. But there was plenty for the Jets to be pleased about, despite their 35-24 defeat.
A year ago, Smith looked dazed and confused against this same opponent. But Friday night, he was as calm and cool as he's ever been, going 9-for-14 for 137 yards and one touchdown, with no interceptions -- a marked improvement from his three-interception performance in last year's Snoopy Bowl.
"He's done everything we've asked," Ryan said.
But it appears Smith hasn't done enough to earn the job outright. Asked if the Jets will take a week-to-week approach with Smith, Ryan stared blankly at his audience.
"Aw, man," he answered after a pause. "It's week to week. Guys, we don't name starters all the dang time. We don't have to do the song and dance. We're happy with both quarterbacks, period. We think we can win with both quarterbacks."
Smith wasn't at all surprised that he'd been tabbed as the starter, though the second-year QB was actually told by a reporter and not his head coach.
"This is it," Smith said, smiling, when asked when Ryan officially told him the news.
Despite his training-camp competition (of sorts) with Vick, Smith said he never felt his starting job was in jeopardy. “All along, I’ve had the notion I’d be out there in Week 1,” he said. “Did I have any doubt? I wouldn’t let doubt creep into my mind.”
So why are the Jets so reticent to name him their season-long starter?
“Why is that the situation? I can’t tell you why,” Smith said. “The only thing I’m here to do is improve myself in practice, day to day, and let things carry themselves out that way. The coaches do all the coaching, they make decisions, they have the final say.
“And as a player, I can only go out there and impress. And that’s what I try to do every single week.”
While Smith was running free and easy and hitting wide-open receivers, Eli Manning (12-for-21, 139 yards, one TD) spent much of the evening trying to escape Muhammad Wilkerson. The Giants quarterback appeared to be a shell of himself behind a porous offensive line.
Nevertheless, it was Tom Coughlin and the Giants who had the Snoopy Trophy by their side at the end of the night.
“I hate to lose, period,” said Ryan.
Despite the loss, the Jets had a balanced attack, complete with a TD pass each by backups Vick and Matt Simms. Running backs Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson also put on a show.
The Jets held a 10-7 halftime lead, but the Giants clawed their way back, taking a 14-10 lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass from backup Ryan Nassib to Henry Hynoski early in the third. And they weren't fazed by Michael Vick's bullet of a TD pass to Eric Decker in the back of the end zone later in the quarter.
Nassib connected with Preston Parker on a 39-yard TD pass with Jets backup cornerback Brandon Dixon in coverage. But Simms, the son of former Giants quarterback Phil Simms, capped a beautifully thrown touchdown pass to Greg Salas with a Victor Cruz-inspired salsa dance.
The Jets' secondary took another hit when Antonio Allen was forced to leave the game with about 11 minutes left in the second quarter after colliding helmet to helmet with teammate Demario Davis. He was replaced by LeQuan Lewis and is going through the concussion protocol. … Backup linebacker Troy Davis suffered a leg injury and did not return. ... Muhammad Wilkerson was spotted leaving the X-Ray room without his shirt on after the game, but didn’t mention any injuries for his star defensive end.