FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In a move that stunned the locker room, the New York Jets have decided to return to Geno Smith as their starting quarterback, sending Michael Vick to the bench after only three starts.
There's a belief within the organization that general manager John Idzik insisted on Smith, overruling his coach, but Rex Ryan said Wednesday that wasn't the case.
"It was 100 percent our decision," said Ryan, adding that "the best thing for this team right now is to play Geno Smith."
Asked whether Idzik talked him out of starting Vick, Ryan said, "One hundred percent, no, he did not."
The team made the announcement shortly after 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday, minutes after Ryan informed the two quarterbacks in separate conversations. The change created a buzz in the morning meetings, as some players were taken aback by the decision.
"I just didn't see us flip-flopping," guard Willie Colon said. "I just figured Vick was going to ride us out."
Other players echoed Colon's sentiment. Vick is popular in the Jets' locker room, which lost confidence in Smith after his three-interception stinker in Week 8 -- the game that got him benched.
Heading toward one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Jets (2-9) evidently want to take a last look at Smith to see whether he can be their quarterback of the future. His return will happen on a national stage, a Monday night home game against the Miami Dolphins.
"I look at it definitely as an opportunity once again, almost like a second chance for me," said Smith, who believes he benefited from his time on the sideline. "When I go out there, I'm definitely going to be playing like everything is on the line, because it is."
Vick, 34, was in remarkably good spirits, claiming he's "cool" with the demotion. He was 1-2 as the starter, committing only one turnover, but he played poorly in Monday night's 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He completed only 7 of 19 passes for 79 yards and an interception, getting pulled in the third quarter.
"Nothing surprises me in this league," Vick said. He declined to say whether he believes the decision came from Ryan or from the front office.
"I don't think it mattered," he said. "The decision was made. I'm all for it. It's cool. Not to say I agree with it -- I'm a competitor, and you always want to be out there playing -- but I don't make the decisions. I respect every decision made in this organization."
Say this for the Jets: Even when they're bad, their quarterback situation never fails to fascinate.
This marks the second quarterback change of the season. After a Week 8 blowout loss to the Bills, which dropped them to 1-7, the Jets went to Vick. At the time, Ryan had little choice but to make the change, as the locker room had grown weary of Smith's turnover-prone ways.
Vick played turnover-free football in his first two starts, steadying the offense with his veteran leadership. He was terrible on Monday night, but his demotion came as a surprise because Ryan isn't known for a quick hook.
On Tuesday, Ryan was leaning toward Vick, according to a source.
Ryan didn't dispute the perception that he didn't give Vick as much leeway as he gave Smith early in the season. He also acknowledged that, with the team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, he's looking to evaluate players for the future.
Ryan evaded the question when asked whether Smith affords the Jets the best chance to win, saying only that Smith gives them "a chance." The hope is that Smith 2.0 will be better than the original version.
"We gave him a few weeks off," Ryan said. "Let's see how he handles it. I'm curious to see that."
ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker contributed to this report.