Things for the Jets are probably going to get worse before they get better—the Chargers, Broncos, and Patriots are up next on the schedule—but after another shaky outing, Geno Smith got an immediate and unequivocal vote of confidence from his coach.
"No, I'm not going to replace him," Ryan said, of calls to start Michael Vick instead. "I feel good about Geno. I think he will get it turned around. He's a tough, resilient young man. I think we're going to win. We'll win soon."
Ryan said Smith is his starter "if he's healthy", and that he never considered benching Smith during yesterday's 24-17 loss to Detroit, not even after turnovers on consecutive four-quarter drives had some in the stadium chanting "We Want Vick."
Smith's looked good at times, but he's up to seven turnovers, including five interceptions, through the first four games. And if the Jets didn't want a quarterback controversy, they shouldn't have signed Vick to loom. He may be 34 years old, but his name and his $5 million paycheck were always going to make things rough on Smith.
Vick claimed he didn't hear the chants, which is a lie, but afterward had all the right platitudes about being ready if his team needs him. On the chants, Vick said, "I've been through that. I know what it's like. It's so unfair. You can ruin quarterbacks that way.''
Jets players were quick to jump to Smith's defense, none more definitively than DE Sheldon Richardson.
"Shut up," Richardson said. "If that's the case, produce a child to make it to the NFL and then let's see what he got.
"Other than that, just shut up. We've got coaches to do that."
(That's a really great, all-purpose, aggrieved-athlete quote. Think I'm not getting the job done? Have a baby who can.)
For his part, Smith probably shouldn't have cursed out a heckler. (Though he's just following in his coach's footsteps there.) And he immediately apologized, without prompting. But at 1-3 for the first time in seven years, with the toughest stretch of the schedule coming up, there's a decent chance the Jets are out of the playoff picture by Halloween, and then everybody's jobs could be on the line. Even the head coach's, whose recent extension isn't nearly as solid as it appears.