DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Geno Smith hardly sounded like a starting quarterback on shaky ground.READ MORE: Detroit Symphony Orchestra Announces Single Tickets For 2022-2023 Season
The rumblings outside the New York Jets’ facility have already begun with some fans and media calling for Smith to sit and Michael Vick to take over.
After just three games.
Smith is ignoring it all. Or, at least, he’s pretty good at pretending he’s unfazed by all the chatter.
“Do I feel like I’m on the hot seat?” Smith said Wednesday. “No, not at all.”
A day after coach Rex Ryan gave Smith a vote of confidence, saying the team believes in him, the second-year quarterback didn’t appear worried about needing to play well Sunday against Detroit to keep his job.
“That’s every Sunday in the NFL,” Smith said.
Smith struggled through a rough game Monday night, a 27-19 loss to Chicago in which he threw two interceptions — including one returned for a touchdown on his first pass. He has five turnovers in three games as the Jets are off to a 1-2 start.
That has some already comparing his performance to his rookie season in which he had 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, showing positive flashes at times but also looking very much like a quarterback learning on the job.
“Honestly, I hate talking about last year,” Smith said. “I am only focused on the Lions. I don’t care about what anyone on the outside says in regards to anything negative about myself or about this team. I appreciate the fans, and I know that they come and support us every week.
“They have to understand that we’re working extremely hard to go out there and win.”
But if he has another bad game, especially at home, the boos could get louder — and so might the calls for Vick.
Despite all that, Smith insists he isn’t considering how much leeway he might have before the Jets make a switch.
“That’s not even a topic of discussion,” he said, “or anything I’ve really thought about.”
Plenty of others have, though. But for now, Smith has the backing of his team, and especially his coach.READ MORE: Deadline Detroit Co-Founder Says Website Will Shut Down After Sept. 5
“I’ve got to prove myself to my teammates,” Smith said. “I’ve got to prove myself to my coaches, as well as myself, that I can go out there and get the job done.”
Ryan was asked, however, why he has hesitated to say Smith is the Jets’ starting quarterback beyond just this week.
“Well, you know, I look at him this way: He’s our starting quarterback and that’s it,” Ryan said. “I think the whole team sees him that way. Again, if I say he’s our starting quarterback for the rest of the season and something happens, then I’d rather not get it thrown in my face.
“But, I feel like this guy will start the rest of the games. But again, things happen and we’ll see.”
The Jets signed Vick in the offseason to avoid a situation like they had last year when Smith had a disastrous stretch in which he threw 11 interceptions and just one touchdown in seven games — five of them losses. There was no viable backup for Smith, someone who could right the ship.
New York has that now in Vick. And, he’s just a bad stretch of games by Smith from getting on the field.
“I absolutely believe that Mike can win games as a quarterback,” Ryan said. “But I also believe that Geno can win games.”
So far, Vick has had no impact in very limited action — usually in wildcat-style packages. He has thrown one incomplete pass and carried the ball one time for 3 yards, saying he hasn’t been productive enough when he’s had chances.
“I mean, it’s difficult, period, for me not to be able to go in and contribute,” Vick said of being mostly a bystander. “Not just because I’m the backup but because I’m just so used to playing.”
Vick chats with Smith often, about life in the NFL and working toward success as a starting quarterback. He also knows, though, that the more Smith improves, the less likely it will be that he’ll get on the field.
“Yeah, and I won’t say that’s what I want,” Vick said. “But I want success for Geno. And I want Geno to go out and fulfill everything he wants to fulfill in this game and at the quarterback position, and primarily for this team. But my chance will come. I’m thankful for that, and I’m hoping for that.”
So, as Vick waits and says all the right things, Smith is eager for another chance to do all the right things on the field — as the Jets’ starting quarterback.
“I’m going out there every single day with the intent to get better,” Smith said. “I’m being intense. I’m being hard on myself, as I always am. I look forward to helping this team win games in the future.”
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