Jets quarterback Geno Smith turned the ball over four times on Sunday against the Titans, including a fumble recovered for a Tennessee touchdown that came loose when Smith was trying to shift the ball from one hand to the other behind his back.
That makes 11 turnovers on the season for Smith, which leaves him tied for the most in the NFL and the most among quarterbacks who call MetLife Stadium home with Eli Manning. The Titans turned all four of Sunday’s turnovers into touchdowns, which is pretty significant in a game that ends with a 38-13 score, and Smith showed he was more successful describing the game than he was playing it when he said he was “just piss poor” on the field.
Coach Rex Ryan, who offered all manner of support for Mark Sanchez in the wake of similar performances in recent years, said Smith is remaining in the starting lineup for the Week Five date with the Falcons. His support wasn’t quite unwavering, however, as he also said that there’s a statute of limitations on making rookie mistakes.
“How many times are we going to make that an excuse?” Ryan said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “One of these days we’re going to have to learn from them and it better be soon…. We better learn in a hurry. It has to get better.”
As much as Ryan might like to suggest otherwise, the Jets are going to have to make excuses for Smith a little longer because there isn’t a particularly viable option on the roster. Benching your second-round pick for Matt Simms seems highly unlikely and Mark Sanchez still has several more weeks on injured reserve before he’s eligible to return, which means Smith is going to be learning on the job.
And he’ll be making mistakes as he goes, whether they are growing pains or simply a manifestation of his shortcomings. That won’t do much to help Ryan’s chances of holding onto his job, but it is in the Jets’ best long-term interest to figure out which way Smith is going to go even if it means that 2013 winds up being less successful than Ryan needs it to be.