Geno Smith not at loss for confidence

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- His career arc is sagging, but New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith still believes he can be a star in the NFL.

Smith didn't back down from an eyebrow-raising quote he made Tuesday night at a charity event in New York, where he told Newsday he has "shown flashes of being a Pro Bowl quarterback."

On Wednesday, he explained.

"I feel like I have the tools and I have what it takes to be that, but, obviously, it takes some consistency and I've been very inconsistent in my two years here," he said, adding: "With that being said, I'll be more of the guy you see doing well than the guy who struggles at times."

At times?

Smith is 9-17 as a starter and the NFL's lowest-rated passer over the past two seasons. He was benched for three games earlier this year, raising doubts about his future with the team. Many believe the Jets (2-11) will look to draft a quarterback with what could be a top-five selection.

So when Smith used the words "Pro Bowl" in a sentence about his own performance, it grabbed the attention of everyone in the organization.

Told that Smith said he has displayed flashes of Pro Bowl form, coach Rex Ryan deadpanned, "Yeah, then he hasn't."

Ryan applauded Smith for his self-confidence, agreeing that consistency is his major issue.

"Clearly, he hasn't gotten that, down after down, but he has done some good things," Ryan said. "That's what he's working on, trying to be that consistent quarterback you see among the top guys in the league. When you think of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, you think of how consistent they are."

Smith has the "arm talent to play in this league," according to Ryan, whose evaluations of Smith have become less effusive as the season has progressed. As recently as October, Smith was deemed by the organization a franchise quarterback. But he was benched after a 1-7 start, sitting for three games behind Michael Vick.

"I really don't think it's fair to judge him right now," said Ryan, who may have waited too long before benching Smith. "Give him some time and we'll see how he develops."

Smith opened last week's game by throwing a pick-6 on the first play, his eighth pick-6 in two seasons -- three more than any other quarterback. In Ryan's six seasons, the Jets have done it 14 times, the first six by Mark Sanchez.

"Those are absolute killers," Ryan said.

To his credit, Smith settled down last Sunday and played one of his better games, but the Jets still lost to the Minnesota Vikings in overtime, 30-24. On Sunday, they face the woeful Tennessee Titans (2-11) in a game that will impact draft position.

Some fans want the Jets to lose so they can be in position to draft Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, the top quarterback prospects. Smith hears the chatter. Asked if he's offended, he said, "A little, a little, but I can't worry about it."

Smith said he's not immune to the criticism. Of course, he added to it by cursing out a fan early in the season and by missing a team meeting. Barring injury, he will start the remaining three games, an audition for next season.

"I truly believe that Geno Smith is going to be a good quarterback in this league," Ryan said.