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Mornhinweg: Jets will endure Geno's growing pains, but may simplify offense

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The pro-Michael Vick faction may not want to hear this, but the New York Jets are braced for a long ride on the Geno Coaster.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, whose opinion carries significant weight in the organization, dismissed the notion that a Geno Smith benching could be in the works. At the same time, Mornhinweg hinted he may scale back the offense because he "put too much on [Smith's] plate" in Monday night's loss to the Chicago Bears.

On the issue of Smith's job security, Mornhinweg made it sound like Vick isn't even a consideration at this point.

"Oh, no, we're right in the middle of developing a young quarterback," Mornhinweg said Thursday, adding: "We're going to go through some ups and downs now, where you go through a little dip. You have to motor through. You have to be tough, mentally.

"We need to develop Geno. Listen, Geno is going to be just fine. ... To be great, in many cases, you have to go through some failures -- and sometimes it's on a Monday night."

Smith cost the Jets at least 10 points in the 27-19 loss, throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown and another in field-goal range. He already has five turnovers, slightly ahead of last year's pace (25).

Mornhinweg acknowledged the obvious, saying the turnovers are "an issue, there's no question about that." He said Smith is "too loose" with the ball.

Everybody knows that. The question is, how can they fix it?

Mornhinweg, in an unusually candid interview (for him), put some of the blame on himself, saying he has to put Smith in a better position to succeed -- especially in the red zone. The Jets were a disaster inside the Bears' 20-yard line, managing only one touchdown in six trips. They got too pass-happy, calling pass plays on 10 of 16 snaps. Smith went 4 for 9, 31 yards, with an interception, a touchdown and a sack.

The running game, the strength of the team, screeched to a halt in the red zone -- nine yards on six carries. As a result, Mornhinweg put the ball in Smith's hands, and he apparently regretted it -- a rather stunning admission.

"I just relied a little too much on him," Mornhinweg said. "There will be a time, hopefully quickly, where we can do that. But that game, looking back on it, I thought I put a little too much on his plate and I could've helped him in a couple of different ways."

He didn't provide specifics, lest he reveal any trade secrets.

"I have great confidence in Geno," Mornhinweg said. "Maybe I had too much confidence last week. ... I checked my hole card this week because that was not good down there in the red zone."

It sounds like Mornhinweg & Co. are re-evaluating how they use Smith. They've given him more responsibily this season -- notice all the no-huddle? -- but maybe it's time to simplify and rely on the running game. That won't be easy this week against the Detroit Lions, who have the second-ranked run defense. This is a tough spot for the Jets, but it appears they're willing to endure Smith's growing pains.

"We're right in the middle of that process," Mornhinweg said. "Sometimes you have to go through some bad stuff to be great."