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Smith remains Jets' top QB despite struggles

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Rex Ryan is sticking with Geno Smith.
/ Source: NBC Sports

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Rex Ryan is sticking with Geno Smith.

The struggling rookie will remain the New York Jets' starting quarterback for the team's game Sunday against the AFC East-rival Miami Dolphins.

While the Jets are on the verge of a full-blown quarterback controversy as their playoff chances have taken a hit, Ryan isn't ready to make a change under center just yet.

"Right now," the coach said Monday, "I would feel he gives us the best chance to win."

Smith hadn't been told of any decision while speaking in the locker room about an hour before Ryan's news conference, but anticipated getting the start at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

"I fully intend to go about my week as I always do and have confidence in myself to be the starter and the leader of this offense," Smith said. "I will continue to study and work diligently as I've always done."

Ryan was noncommittal to starting Smith after the Jets' 19-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, saying he wanted to watch the tape of the game before making any decisions. Smith was 9 of 22 for 127 yards and was intercepted twice and sacked three times.

Over his last six games, Smith has thrown 10 interceptions and one touchdown pass. Against Baltimore, the Jets were 1 of 12 on third downs and finished with just 220 total yards.

"The mistakes we made, they're not on one person," Ryan said. "Offensively, as it always does, it seems like we talk about Geno all the time and that stats are out there for the public awareness, I guess. Here are the facts: He was 9 for 22, but it doesn't paint the whole picture.

"It's certainly not on one guy."

But some fans and media have called for inexperienced backup Matt Simms to start for the Jets (5-6), who have lost two in a row and gone from controlling their playoff destiny to being way back in a pack of teams on the outside.

"With Geno, sure, we have to get more production out of the quarterback position, I understand that," Ryan said. "Some of it, he's making the throws."

Ryan explained the theory of a defense trying to force a quarterback into having to "throw out of a well," meaning that the pocket collapses so significantly that he has to just heave it straight up rather than being able to aim at targets consistently.

That, Ryan said, has helped contribute to some of the poor play lately by Smith.

"We have to protect better," right guard Willie Colon said. "He's forced to make some throws and a lot of things are coming at him. Up front, we've got to help him out, but we're not."

Ryan also pointed to receivers not running the right routes or dropping passes, and the defense not making plays to help out the offense.

Still, there have been questionable decisions made by Smith throughout the season, befitting a rookie who is learning on the job. His 18 interceptions lead the NFL and his 62.1 quarterback rating is last among current starting quarterbacks.

"I don't like to call them growing pains," said Smith, who acknowledged that this is his toughest stretch statistically at any level. "I don't make any excuses for anything. I fully expect myself, rookie or not, to go out there and perform. They're just mistakes that I've got to correct."

But is he running out of time - and the team running out of patience?

"I completely shut it out," Smith said of the calls for him to be benched. "One, you have to. And two, I always will because I know what it takes to win and what it takes to be a good quarterback, and it doesn't have anything to do with anything outside of this building. It takes preparation and hard work, so that's something I'll continue to do."

Ryan insisted the Jets are closer than many people might think, but also implored his players to not listen to any of the negative comments being said or written about them outside the facility.

"We've got to stay together," defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said of Ryan's message to the team. "People are going to try to break the team apart, try to point their fingers, but we've got to try to stay the course here and win these five games."

NOTES: LB Troy Davis stayed overnight at a hospital in Baltimore after suffering a chest injury on a hit by the Ravens' Courtney Upshaw. Ryan hinted that he was unhappy about it being a hit on a "defenseless player." ... WR David Nelson on whether the game against Miami feels like a must win: "Without being too dramatic, I definitely think so," he said.