FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rex Ryan rambled on, providing little clarity about the befuddling state of the Jets' anemic offense. But he did provide one clear-cut nugget during his 20-minute news conference Monday.
Geno Smith, his erratic rookie quarterback, will remain the starter Sunday against the Dolphins.
Ryan delivered the news in matter-of-fact fashion, as if the struggling Smith's status was never in doubt. But after Sunday's 19-3 loss in Baltimore, even Smith admitted he's aware of growing sentiment that he should sit.
But despite Smith's 22 turnovers and 18 interceptions, both of which are league highs, Ryan remains committed to him. At least for this week.
"Right now, I would feel that he gives us the best chance to win," Ryan said a day after Smith finished with a 22.3 quarterback rating and 127 yards on 9-for-22 passing (a week after compiling a 10.1 quarterback rating and 103 yards on 8-for-23 passing).
Ryan tap-danced around the topic of backup Matt Simms, refusing to give a definitive answer about whether he and the coaching staff discussed the possibility of having Simms replace Smith against Miami. Instead, he stressed that a quarterback's statistics "don't paint the whole picture."
Rather than focus on Smith's 10 interceptions and one touchdown pass in the last six games, Ryan spread the blame to other areas of the offense: the pass protection and the receivers.
"I recognize it's an important position," Ryan said. "But sometimes the protection's letting us down, sometimes the timing of the routes is letting us down, sometimes guys aren't catching the football, sometimes it's a poor throw and a poor decision on the quarterback's part. I don't know if you guys believe me or not, but that's what I see. So I don't see it necessarily about just the one man."
When Smith addressed the media Monday, he still hadn't been given official word that he would start this week. But he told reporters he would go through his routine as if the job still were his. And he didn't sugarcoat his latest brutal performance, either.
"I didn't do enough, didn't get the job done," he said. "We didn't score a touchdown, so that's never good . . . We've got to figure out ways to just get better and to put points on the board. It's pretty simple."
Fixing their offensive problems isn't so simple, however.
"We have to protect better," guard Willie Colon said of the offensive line. "A lot of things were in [Smith's] face, he's forced to make throws. A lot of things are coming at him. We're a veteran group up front, so that's why I got frustrated [after the game]. 'Cause I knew that it's on us right now.
"I don't doubt the effort, I don't doubt the fight. It's just our level of play and execution has to crank up. 'Cause when you look around the league, that's what teams are doing. So if we want to have an honest shot and be realistic about the goals we want to accomplish, we have to step our game up."
Receiver David Nelson said he didn't want to be "too dramatic" about the importance of Sunday's game against the Dolphins (5-6), but he acknowledged it could make or break their season. And if the Jets (5-6) expect to win, they'll need to accumulate more than the 118 passing yards they had against the Ravens.
"Veteran guys were taking it upon themselves to make a big play, trying to make a 5-yard play into a 60-yard play," said Nelson, who did not have a reception despite being targeted five times.
"We tried to put too much on ourselves as receivers to take over our game when we should have just let the game come to us."