Jets backing Geno Smith until it hurts

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Geno Smith has always had the pressure of a New York spotlight, but now the rookie quarterback can add to that the pressure of losing.

As the Jets have dived headlong into a three-game losing streak, Smith has struggled, and inadvertently nullified a few decent defensive efforts. But as coach Rex Ryan follows each loss with a renewed commitment to starting Smith, the rest of the Jets fall in line.

“We just got to believe in him,” Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said. “Geno’s the guy, I just want him to believe in himself. Amongst all the stuff that’s been happening, you got to believe in yourself. So, everybody’s on board.”

Ryan has substituted Matt Simms in for Smith three times this season, but Simms hasn’t played well enough to win the starting job and the Jets want to know what the long-term potential of Smith is.

“I never want to come out of a game, never, no matter what,” Smith said. “It did motivate me. I think, like I said, in hindsight it could be a good thing later on down the road. Honestly, I never want to come out of a game, but I’ve got to use it as motivation and take it for what it’s worth.”

The Jets' commitment to determining Smith’s potential might ultimately cost the Jets a trip to the playoffs this season, something that a defensive player might have a hard time swallowing. Pace was asked if Smith might be pressing too hard given all the responsibility his position entails.

“I think everyone is pressing right now,” Pace said. “We’re at a point of no return now where we have to win, and that’s all we can do -- win.” It’s a pressure position -- if we win he gets all the credit and if we lose he gets all the blame, and that’s not fair.

I just want him to keep working, keep believing in himself.”

Ryan said Smith had the best practice he’s had all season, which was meant as praise but falls a little flat given his performances when the clock is turned on. Smith agreed that the offense played well on Wednesday.

“I liked the tempo,” Smith said. “I can tell guys definitely want to turn things around and we understand that we haven’t played well as of late, so we’re doing everything in our power to get that changed.”

With Simms having been tapped to play and some observers asking why David Garrard hasn’t played, there may have been some tension in the quarterback room earlier this week. Simms said they hashed it out Monday, putting everything on the table and walking out in agreement.

Garrard said that quarterback is an odd position.

“There’s only one person that plays and you never sub,” Garrard said. “So you have to be able to get along, but still silently competing with each other but still helping each other.”

And right now, that means in particular helping Smith.