Jets' Smith focused on strong finish, not doubters
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Geno Smith knows many fans have already moved on from him.
With the New York Jets sitting at a dreadful 2-11, the race is on for the No. 1 draft pick - and possibly Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston coming to town as the team's new quarterback.
To some fans, the Jets' game at Tennessee on Sunday offers the franchise a chance to lose and have a better shot at that top selection - a notion that offends Smith.
''Yeah, a little bit, but I can't worry about it,'' Smith said Wednesday. ''I'm just going out there and do what I have to do to win the game. I can't make any decisions on anything other than that. So yeah, I just focus on doing my job.''
At a charity event in Manhattan on Tuesday, Smith told Newsday that he has ''shown flashes of being a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback'' during his mostly shaky two NFL seasons.
The statement likely made many fans roll their eyes, especially considering Smith has thrown 33 interceptions - including eight returned for TDs - and is 9-17 as a starter.
''When I was talking about it, I was speaking on consistency,'' Smith clarified Wednesday. ''That was my main key, is that I feel like I have the tools and I have what it takes to be that, but obviously, it takes consistency and I've been very inconsistent in my two years here.''
It remains to be seen whether that lack of consistency will cost Smith his job as the team's starting quarterback - or even a spot on the roster. With the futures of coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik uncertain, a new regime could have its own plans.
Ryan smiled when he was asked about Smith's declaration that he has shown flashes of Pro Bowl-type play.
''Yeah,'' Ryan said with a pause. ''And then, he hasn't.''
Ryan went on to praise Smith's confidence and work ethic, saying he wants his players to strive to be among the league's best. He also insisted that Smith is working toward being a consistent performer.
Still, the Pro Bowl seems a long way off for a player who has a 68.0 quarterback rating with eight touchdown passes and 12 interceptions during a season many believed Smith would be better.
Ryan said it's ''really unfair'' to say whether Smith can be a top quarterback in the league because the sample size is still too small to make a definitive judgment.
''He does have a lot of God-given ability,'' Ryan said. ''He can move and he has a good arm. He has the arm talent to play in this league, without question, and now he is working on those other things.''
Wide receiver Percy Harvin came to the Jets in October from Seattle, where he played with Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and won a Super Bowl. Harvin has seen enough from Smith in two months to make a positive evaluation.
''I definitely think Geno's going to be a starter - a great starter - in this league,'' Harvin said. ''I think he definitely has all the tools, the work ethic, so if (the Pro Bowl) is his goal, I don't see why he can't reach it.''
It wasn't long ago - about 17 months - that Jets fans were clamoring for Smith to start as a rookie over Mark Sanchez. Smith, a second-round pick, was the new guy in town and Sanchez was old news. Smith saw what Sanchez went through as far as the critics before being lost for the year in the preseason with a shoulder injury.
''It was tough on Mark, it was tough on all of us,'' Smith said. ''It was tough on me. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm immune to it. But my demeanor is to always work harder and stand firm and believe in myself, so I'm not going to ever waver in no way.''
Smith has suddenly found himself in the same situation Sanchez was in. He has no idea what his football future holds, but he has three more games to end the season on a good note - as he did last season.
''The only thing that I can try to do,'' Smith said, ''is those that don't believe in me, try to win them over by playing well.''
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