Geno Smith and the Jets Were Bad, but Rex Ryan Mainly to Blame for QB Woes

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterDecember 1, 2013

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Somewhere, with the game long over, the embarrassment complete, Mark Sanchez is alone, and laughing his ass off. Not a chuckle or a smirk. It's one of those laughs that comes from the belly and causes snot bubbles. Where your sides hurt. Your knees get weak. There are gasps for air.

Sanchez: "You Jets fans still think it's my fault? Bwaaahaahaaaa."

This is how bad the New York Jets' quarterback situation is. Mark Sanchez is now looked upon longingly, the way a starving man thinks a head of lettuce is a delicacy. What has happened since Sanchez became a laughingstock and favorite whipping boy of Jets fans, the media and even teammates is that an entirely new laugh track has been created.

What happened on Sunday during one of the Jets' worse losses of this season, of any season, was a new low for this franchise that can't find a quarterback. It wasn't that New York just lost to Miami, 23-3, it was how they lost, setting a near record for quarterback ineptitude.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 1:   Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets walks the sidelines during their game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on December 1, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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Geno Smith, much like Sanchez, will get the blame—and in many ways he should. There's putrid, then that slimy stuff that coats the walls of subterranean caves, and then the play of Smith. He was benched at halftime for inefficiency that may have been worse than anything we saw from Sanchez.

Smith was 4-of-10 for 29 yards and an interception. He had a quarterback rating of 8.3. Coincidentally, that was the blood-alcohol content of every Jets fan after watching Smith.

Smith is yet another example of how in 21st-century football, where the NFL makes it easier than ever to have good quarterback play, the Jets still can't find a good quarterback. No matter how many breadcrumbs the NFL puts out, the Jets remain lost when it comes to pass throwers. I think this will eventually be Rex Ryan's undoing in New York. 

Smith has one touchdown and 11 interceptions in his last seven games. He does not resemble the cocky kid I saw in New York during the draft. Smith is visibly shaken. There's no confidence. His mind is a tub of goo. And this is where the blame on Smith should end and the blame should begin for Ryan and the Jets front office.

Maybe Smith is terrible. Maybe he always will be. But what's happening to the rookie second-rounder has a lot to do with Ryan, who, as he demonstrated with Sanchez, has no clue how to handle an offense. Or a quarterback.

That remains the biggest problem and why Ryan is one of the least well-rounded coaches in football. Brilliant defensive mind, but you couldn't fill a paper cup with Ryan's offensive knowledge. He knows to how stop one but can't run one.

Ryan treats quarterbacks like they're an inconvenience. Like something stuck on the bottom of his shoe. It was clear that Smith's confidence was shot, so you bench him for a game or two. I know what some of you will say: "Wouldn't benching Smith further drain his confidence?" Well, it couldn't be any lower, so no.

Sometimes a benching is like a pause button. It would have allowed Smith to catch his breath and gather himself. Put David Garrard in. Put Matt Simms in. Those are not great options for Ryan, sure, but it would be impossible for either to be any worse than Smith.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 1:   Geno Smith #7, Matt Simms #5 and Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets stand with New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg during their game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on December 1, 2013 i
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Since Ryan thinks quarterbacks are like a loaf of bread—wheat, white, raisin, they're all the same—he just let Smith rot.

This is also an organizational problem. General manager John Idzik entered this season with Simms as the only viable backup. He could have signed Jason Campbell or even Ryan Fitzpatrick, but didn't. Neither of those two is Joe Montana, but they're better than anything on the Jets roster now.

Michael Irvin, yes that Michael Irvin, spoke of the Jets' situation on Sunday on the NFL Network. Mock Irvin, a Hall of Famer, at your own risk, but he's become one of the brightest analysts on television. He also played with another Hall of Famer in Troy Aikman—Irvin knows a little something about the position.

This is what he said about Smith: "This kid right now is in the worst possible place for the maturation of a young quarterback…with the media, with what he doesn't have in a veteran quarterback, what he doesn't have at wide receiver, and a head coach that only cares about his defense."

Ding, ding, ding.

Since Joe Namath in the late '70s, these are some the Jets' starting quarterbacks: Richard Todd, Ken O'Brien, Browning Nagle, Glenn Foley, Neil O'Donnell, Ray Lucas, Rick Mirer, Chad Pennington, Quincy Carter and a 72-year-old Brett Favre.

Now Geno Smith. We still don't know how good Smith will be but we do know the Jets' quarterback situation is once again a disaster.

And somewhere Mark Sanchez is still laughing.


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