FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- As a rookie quarterback in the NFL, each week is a learning experience for Geno Smith.
With each opponent he faces, Smith sees new defenses and blitz packages, and has to adapt to the unique situations each game presents. Sometimes, Smith has excelled, like he did in Sunday's 24-13 win over the Browns, while there have been plenty of games where he's hurt the Jets with this play.
Through each step of the process, Smith has offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach David Lee by his side, aiding him through the expected ups and downs of a rookie season. As the coaches' futures with the organization are up in the air, as head coach Rex Ryan could be dismissed at season's end, Smith said Monday that coaching consistency would help him grow.
"I know as long as David Lee is my coach and Marty is my coach, they won’t allow me to take any breaks or take any shortcuts and that’s kind of been the way that I’ve been learning all season," Smith said on a conference call. "Having coaches such as Marty and coach Lee, it really allows me to stay in that moment and just continue to grind and continue to grow as a rookie."
If the Jets choose to part ways with head coach Rex Ryan, as this will mark the third straight year without the postseason, the new coach would bring in his own staff. There are cases where assistant coaches survive after a head coach gets dismissed, but Mornhinweg and Lee have only been with the team for one season.
The duo had the tough task this season of guiding Smith to a level of play where he could lead the team to the playoffs, and in the process, potentially save the coaches' jobs. Smith started well, leading the Jets to a 5-4 record entering the bye, but his play deteriorated after a strong first month.
After the Jets improved to 3-2 with a last-second win over Atlanta, Smith threw just one touchdown in his next seven games. The Jets went 2-5 in that stretch, including three straight losses out of the break to Buffalo, Baltimore and Miami. Had the Jets won one of those games, particularly against Baltimore or Miami, they'd still be in the playoff hunt.
Since that rough stretch, which included a benching in the loss to Miami, Smith has improved and played like he did early in the season. His decisions have been better, and Mornhinweg has allowed Smith more freedom to run with the ball if the opportunity arises. Smith has a quarterback rating of 83.5 in these last three games, and the Jets are 2-1.
Ryan, who would not address his future Monday, said coaching consistency helps. He praised Mornhinweg and Lee for their work.
"Are those outstanding teachers? Absolutely. I think David Lee is probably as fine a quarterbacks coach as I've been around and Marty certainly is a guy that can develop quarterbacks and has developed quarterbacks throughout the years," Ryan said. "Both those guys are great coaches."