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Sorry, fans, but Jets say No. 1 priority isn't winning the right to pick first in draft

Jets quarterback Geno Smith passes against the San

Jets quarterback Geno Smith passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of a game, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in San Diego. Photo Credit: AP / Denis Poroy

Geno Smith can hear the chatter. And he knows it will only continue.

While he and his teammates talk about playing for pride each week, fans have shifted their focus to the future. This season is a lost cause for the Jets, an organization that not too long ago seemed like a franchise on the rise. But after failed promises of "sustainable success" -- and a lack of improvement through the draft -- many fans have turned their attention to offseason changes, namely at quarterback.

The Jets are within striking distance of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. But so are the Tennessee Titans -- and more than just a win will be on the line for these two 2-11 teams Sunday in Nashville.

Both organizations are in the quarterback market, and Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston are the assumed top targets. But to have the best chance of snagging the top pick ahead of the Titans, Bucs, Jaguars and Raiders -- all of whom are 2-11 -- the Jets might have to lose out the rest of the way.

And that's exactly what Smith is trying to avoid.

"I hate to talk about the fans or say anything negative about the fans, but I don't think that should be their attitude," he said. "The fans should want to see the team win no matter what."

If recent history is any indication, Jets fans thinking about the future might get what they want Sunday.

The Jets are 0-2 in their past two games in Tennessee, thanks to poor quarterback play. Smith committed four turnovers in their 38-13 loss to the Titans last year, including three in the first half that resulted in 21 points. And in 2012, Mark Sanchez turned the ball over five times in a 14-10 loss at LP Field.

"We got our butt kicked real bad the last two times," said Muhammad Wilkerson, who is out for the game with turf toe. "So hopefully we'll get a win on Sunday."

But if they don't, the Jets presumably will be one step closer to a higher draft pick. And that's a good thing, right?

Not if you ask the players.

"One draft pick isn't going to change things," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "If you end up with a high draft pick, that guy still has to get seasoned and become a pro. Very few times you see guys come in and change a franchise . . . So if that's your thinking, that's your thinking on the outside. But it's a little bit more to it than that."

The draft, of course, is an inexact science.

Besides the Indianapolis Colts, who hit a home run with Peyton Manning in 1998 and with Andrew Luck in 2012, few teams have hit paydirt in recent years with their first-round quarterback selections. And according to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., there isn't a franchise quarterback in the 2015 crop of quarterbacks either.

Even if Mariota goes No. 1 overall, as expected, "he's not Andrew Luck," Kiper said. "He's not in that elite of elite category. Could he be really good? If you're patient with him, if you wait and let him evolve, and we don't write him off as a bust early on, then you're fine."

The Jets, however, need an immediate solution to their quarterback woes. And Smith knows many fans -- and even members of the organization -- aren't convinced he's the answer.

"I don't have any feelings toward it, really," Smith said of fans who want to see him replaced. "You have guys that support you, you have guys that don't. That's just the way it is . . . The only thing that I can try and do is, those that don't believe in me, try to win them over by playing well."

But in the meantime, fans and the Jets' front office will be keeping an eye on 2015.

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