The Geno Smith era in East Rutherford is not off to the greatest start.
Smith’s Jets have not been terrible this season — they’re 2-2 heading into next week’s matchup with Atlanta on Monday night — but ball control has been a serious issue for the rookie quarterback.
Smith has turned the ball over 11 times in his first four games (eight interceptions, three fumbles), tied with Eli Manning for most in the NFL. His most costly display came this past Sunday, when the Titans scored 28 points off four Smith turnovers en route to a 38-13 rout.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan said Monday that benching Smith is “not a thought right now,” according to The Associated Press, but he also stressed that ball control needs to be the rookie’s No. 1 priority.
“You can’t buy experience, but with that being said, we still have to do a much better job — Geno, in particular — of protecting the football at all costs,” Ryan told reporters (via ESPN.com). “You can’t be nonchalant about it, you have to protect the ball.”
“As far as those turnovers go, they have to stop now,” Smith said. “A lot falls on my shoulders as far as taking care of the ball, but that’s something I have to do. I know that I’ve been coached hard. No one wants to make those mistakes. It’s something that has to stop now in order for us to progress and to get better as an offense and as a team.”
Even if Ryan did have the desire to give Smith some time on the pine, his options at quarterback are rather limited. Mark Sanchez will likely undergo shoulder surgery shortly, shelving him for the remainder of the season and leaving the Jets with rookie Matt Simms (who has never played an NFL down) and journeyman Brady Quinn as their only backup signal callers.