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Sunday notes: Vinny Testaverde not ready to label Geno Smith a lost cause

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A look at what's happening around and inside the New York Jets:

1. Testaverde knows: Vinny Testaverde can relate to Geno Smith. Testaverde was an interception machine early in his career and was booed out of Tampa Bay, but he found his way to the Jets and thrived, one of the few quarterbacks in the post-Namath era who actually finished with a better reputation than when he arrived. Testaverde always kept a sign in his locker that said: "Mentally tough, physically strong."

Smith hasn't provided many reasons lately to make us believe he has the mental toughness to survive in New York, but he's not a lost cause, according to Testaverde, who told ESPN.com: "He's having some growing pains, but it's not all on him. I see, not just as a fan of the Jets, but as a former player who has some knowledge about the game and the position, I see a lot of growth, a lot of improvement in Geno Smith this year. I'm encouraged by him.

"I know everybody is looking at the interceptions. Nobody knows any better than I do about going through the lows, but I see things from him that make me believe he's going to be a really good quarterback. Hopefully, it will be for the Jets."

I asked Testaverde about Smith's missed meeting and the cursing incident. He said he once missed a meeting before a preseason game in Tokyo because he was wiped out by the jet lag and the time change. Did he ever curse a heckling fan? "Never out loud," he said, laughing. "Inside, yeah." He added: "I hate to say this -- and I hope you don't write it as a negative toward Geno -- it just shows a sign of weakness, not being mentally tough. It doesn't matter what town you play in, you have to be mentally tough."

That incident notwithstanding, Testaverde doesn't think Smith is ready for the dumpster. He's in the minority.

2. No. 1 is No. 27: On Sunday, Michael Vick becomes the 27th quarterback to start for the Jets since 1977, the start of the A.J. era -- After Joe. They have tried everything to find that elusive franchise quarterback. They have tried the draft (seven quarterbacks in the first two rounds since '76), they have tried free agency (Neil O'Donnell, $25 million) and they have tried trades (Brett Favre). And the search continues.

3. Speaking of Vick...: His QBR this season is 13.1, the lowest in the league among the 39 quarterbacks to play at least 100 snaps. In other words, don't expect a miracle.

4. Mariota or Winston? The Jets could have a top-5 pick if they continue to lose, which means they could have a shot at one of the top quarterbacks in the draft -- Oregon's Marcus Mariota or Florida State's Jameis Winston, who would be a huge risk because of his off-the-field baggage. About 12 general managers scouted Thursday night's Florida State-Louisville game, but John Idzik wasn't among them. The Jets' director of college scouting, Jeff Bauer, represented the team.

5. The ultimate riddle: If the turnover-prone Smith faced the Jets' turnover-starved defense in a game, who would win?

6. Idzik fallout: Since his hiring in January, 2013, Idzik has made a concerted effort to eliminate the "circus" perception that surrounded the organization before his arrival. That is what made his headline-making news conference so ironic; he dredged up some of the old comparisons with his unfortunate performance. That said, a general manager shouldn't be judged by his ability in front of the cameras. Talent evaluators and coaches should be graded by the product on the field. If news-conference ability were the bottom line, Bill Belichick would be an accountant.

7. Getalife.com: So a few disgruntled fans apparently have created a web site for the sole purpose of getting Idzik fired. Welcome to the club, John.

8. Rock bottom: The Jets have been a middle-of-the-pack franchise under owner Woody Johnson, who took over in 2000. Since then, their record is 114-118, with six playoff appearances in 14 years. But now the Jets are experiencing the dark ages of the Johnson era. Consider: They are one loss away from their fourth straight season with at least eight losses, something they haven't done since losing eight games in eight straight seasons from 1989 to 1996.

9. Four-corner defense: They have already started four different cornerbacks, and that total will grow to five if Josh Thomas or Marcus Williams gets the start in Kansas City. Here is the kicker: None of the five started more than 12 games before this season.

10. The history of Tuna: Those intrigued by Bill Parcells should pick up a copy of his new authorized biography, "Parcells: A Football Life," co-written with Nunyo Demasio. Allow me to pass along a few nuggets that might be of current interest to Jets' fans:

  • After buying the team, Johnson called Parcells to introduce himself. Parcells told the new owner, "Congratulations. Being in pro football is not for the well-adjusted." To which Johnson replied: "That's good, because I'm not well-adjusted." (Presumably, that was Woody humor.)

  • When he left the Jets in 2000, Parcells gave a bottle of Grey Goose to salary-cap guru and future GM Mike Tannenbaum, telling him: "At some point, you're going to need this." (I wonder if Tannenbaum left it in his desk for Idzik.)

  • During a free-agent spending spree, Parcells called Leon Hess to let him know he was doling out a lot of money for players. The late owner replied, "I don't give a s---. If you run out of money, come over to the oil company and we'll get some more for you this afternoon. (I wonder if the Idzik-Johnson conversations sound like that.)

  • This is apropos of nothing, but I found it funny. Al Pacino came to a few practices one year to research his role as a coach in "Any Given Sunday." Parcells welcomed Pacino, cracking, "Just this one time, I'm going to let you ask about the family business." Fans of "The Godfather" will understand.

10. The All-Parcells team: As part of the book, Parcells picked the best players he has coached, a 57-man team that goes three-deep at most positions. There are 26 New York Giants, 14 New England Patriots, nine Jets and eight Dallas Cowboys. The Jets' players are: Testaverde, center Kevin Mawae, running back Curtis Martin, wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet, nose tackle Jason Ferguson, linebacker Mo Lewis and cornerbacks Marcus Coleman and Aaron Glenn.