NFL

Ryan keeping Smith as Jets' starting QB against Raiders

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The Canadian Press
12/2/2013 7:17:02 PM
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Geno Smith is staying put as the New York Jets' starting quarterback.

His hold on the job, however, is tenuous at best.

"He's our best shot, in my opinion," coach Rex Ryan said.

Ryan confirmed Monday that he's sticking with the rookie despite Smith's struggles in the last several games.

"I believe in Geno," Ryan said. "I think he has the tools to be a good quarterback in this league."

Smith wasn't surprised when he was told Monday morning by quarterbacks coach David Lee that he would start the home game Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

"Every day I come into this building, I fully expect to play," Smith said. "I prepare that way. When I got the news, it wasn't a major reaction."

Smith was benched in favour of Matt Simms at halftime of the Jets' 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins following another brutal performance. The rookie was 4 for 10 for 29 yards with an interception and an 8.3 quarterback rating in two quarters.

"If it was a tactic to wake me up or get me going," Smith said, "it definitely worked because right now I definitely feel a sense of urgency."

He has one touchdown pass -- against New England on Oct. 20 -- and 11 interceptions in his last seven games. The Jets (5-7) have lost three straight to go from controlling their playoff destiny a few weeks ago to barely hanging on in the post-season mix.

Still, Smith will get the start against Oakland over Simms and veteran David Garrard, who hasn't played a regular-season game since 2010.

"His perseverance is impressive to me," Ryan said about Smith. "He'll bounce back from this, and I'm just waiting for him to have a great game."

Simms said he was anxious coming to the facility, not knowing if he would get his first NFL start or remain Smith's backup -- at least for the next game.

"Obviously, when you get out there on the field and you get a little taste of the real action, all you want is you want more of it," Simms said. "But nonetheless, Geno's the man and I'm going to support him and prepare like I have been.

"If my number's called again, then I'll go out there and play as hard I can again."

Smith was booed loudly by the MetLife Stadium crowd at times before being replaced by Simms. The son of former Giants star Phil Simms was cheered as he jogged onto the field to start the third quarter, but didn't fare much better. He was 9 for 18 for 79 yards with an interception, and was sacked three times.

"I did enough to solidify that I'm still the (backup)," Simms said, smiling. "So, at least I didn't play myself out of my job, so that's the key."

Garrard spoke to Smith on the sideline after the benching, encouraging him to continue to cheer for the team and keep his spirits up. The veteran also thinks Smith will be able to bounce back.

"He has it in him," Garrard said. "I think these are the growing pains of a young quarterback. Being able to play your way out of it is also going to be another good lesson for him too moving forward with his career. He has to find somewhere to dig down."

While Smith is getting the bulk of the criticism among the players, the fact is there are several other culprits in the Jets' recent spiral.

The offensive line has been inconsistent, the defence -- particularly the secondary -- has been uncharacteristically leaky and the spate of injuries to key players on offence has left a dearth of top talent on the field.

"He's only struggling because we're not helping him out," left guard Willie Colon said. "That's the bottom line."

After watching the film, Ryan reiterated what he said Sunday of the team's play against the Dolphins, calling it "just a poor performance on our part."

The Dolphins dominated during the first two quarters, outgaining the Jets 265 yards to 39, with 16 first downs to New York's 2. Miami took control in the second half and finished by outgaining New York 453-177.

"Obviously, he's going through some rough times," Ryan said about Smith. "These last three games haven't been good for him. Quite honestly, it hasn't been good for a lot of us."

NOTES: Ryan said KR-WR Josh Cribbs' shoulder injury is "pretty bad. I think it's pretty serious." The Jets could be in the market for a kick returner, especially since Ryan indicated that Antonio Cromartie (four returns, 31.5 yard average) wouldn't be an ideal option since he's the team's top cornerback. ... Ryan said S Ed Reed, off to a slow start with the Jets, will continue to start "unless he's injured." ... WR Santonio Holmes only played two snaps after sitting out all week with a hamstring injury. "We thought he was going to play a little more than that," said Ryan, who added that the coaches noticed "that burst wasn't quite there."

Geno Smith (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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