Rex Ryan still believes.
Although some fans have given up on Geno Smith, the Jets coach hasn't. And neither have his players.
"I think everybody's behind Geno. He's our quarterback and our football team believes in him, so that's it,'' Ryan said on a conference call Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Smith threw two interceptions in a 27-19 loss to the Bears on Monday Night Football.
"Geno's a mentally tough guy. We're happy that we have Mike Vick on this team. But we believe in Geno. We understand that it wasn't great and he made some mistakes, but we've just got to get better and we've got to learn from these and then move on.''
The calls for a quarterback change flooded social media and radio airwaves in the immediate aftermath of another missed opportunity by the Jets. A week after they squandered a 21-3 lead against the Packers, the Jets managed to blow a winnable game against the Bears at home. Smith's two interceptions -- including a pick-six on the second play -- were the main culprits. But so, too, were Jalen Saunders' muffed punt (which led to a Chicago touchdowns) and two bad calls by the officials.
But rather than discuss Smith's shortcomings, Ryan highlighted the quarterback's ability to bounce back. To his credit, Smith completed 14 of 18 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown to Jeremy Kerley immediately after his first interception.
"It just shows you that the guy, he has it,'' Ryan said. "There's no question he has it inside. And he can get it done. But again, some of those mistakes, we've got to get better at. And Geno will be the first to tell you that.''
Smith was picked off again in the third quarter after he lofted a pass to a well-covered David Nelson in the end zone.
"He's trying to give a jump-ball opportunity up there, but at that point in the game, you don't need to do that,'' Ryan said. "Just take what you have or run it or get rid of it.''
But Smith's confidence never wavers in the face of adversity. During an interview on ESPN radio, Kerley said Smith approached the offense late in the game and said: "We've got to stick together. Somebody's going to make a play. We've got to win the game.''
On air, Kerley said: "I love my quarterback, man. I love that dude . . . That showed me that he has courage and faith in us to take over the game.''
The Jets, however, fell short.
Strange as it sounds, they easily could be 3-0 instead of 1-2. But self-inflicted wounds, erratic quarterback play and questionable officiating calls continue to plague them. But right now they're focused on facing the Lions (2-1) on short rest.
And they're committed to Smith. At least, for the time being.
"Guys make mistakes. It's going to happen even to the most experienced quarterbacks,'' Ryan said, adding that Smith has shown marked improvement since his rookie season last year. "But I think he'll bounce back from it. I truly believe that. He's a mentally tough guy and shoot, he's ready. He wishes he could play right now.''