CORTLAND, N.Y. -- With three words, Rex Ryan changed the landscape of the New York Jets' quarterback competition.
After watching rookie Geno Smith throw three interceptions Wednesday in damp and unseasonably chilly conditions at practice, Ryan was asked to assess the rookie's day.
"It was brutal," Ryan said bluntly.
The Jets had hoped to name a starting quarterback after the second preseason game, but it looks as if that timetable could be pushed back. Ryan still hasn't announced Saturday night's starter against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but based on his harsh evaluation of Smith and his belief that the former West Virginia star remains hampered by an ankle injury, it appears Mark Sanchez will get the call for the second straight week.
If that's the case, the quarterback competition might not be decided until after the third preseason game.
Smith, who suffered a mild ankle sprain Friday night against the Lions in Detroit, hasn't missed a day of practice. But it was apparent Wednesday that he wasn't the same.
"That was Geno's worst day, obviously," Ryan said. "The ankle is part of it. That's way too many picks. He didn't look comfortable today. It was a bad day. ... We've seen guys have bad days, but this was a really bad day.
"Was I disappointed that he had a day like today? Absolutely. These days happen, but you don't expect them to happen."
Ryan left open the possibility that Smith won't play at all Saturday night. Even if he does, it probably won't be a fair evaluation, considering his injury. For that reason, Ryan might be inclined to extend the competition another week.
Smith insisted his ankle did not factor into his poor day.
"Not one bit," he said.
Smith bristled when asked to explain the interceptions.
"I don't know, you have to watch the tape," he said. "I'm pretty sure y'all got it. Just go ahead and watch it."
Smith offered a curious response when asked if he wants to start Saturday night.
"No comment," he said. "Next question."
After a fantastic start to camp, Smith has dipped the past 10 days -- but not in his mind. He called Wednesday a "pretty good practice," adding: "I've been getting better every single day."
Smith completed 6-of-7 passes for 47 yards in the preseason opener vs. the Lions, but he played only 14 snaps. Presumably, the plan was to let him start the second game, working exclusively with the starters. But that doesn't appear likely.
Ryan said Smith's ankle is "not close" to 100 percent. He appreciated the rookie's bravado, but his eyes told him Smith was laboring.
"You see it out there. He's not able to move like he normally does," Ryan said. "He's not able to drive the ball like he normally does."
It certainly raises the issue of whether the Jets erred by not giving him a day or two to rest the ankle.
As for Sanchez, the embattled incumbent has created some separation from Smith on the practice field, but he hurt his chances with an interception for a touchdown against the Lions -- a play that dredged up memories of past struggles.
Sanchez was upbeat after the team's last full day in Cortland.
"I think it went just about as well as it could," he said of the first phase of camp. "I felt good. I thought I threw the ball well. I was accurate. I did my best to take care of the ball. I moved the offense down the field. I think we did that in spurts."
Ryan said he needs to see more from both quarterbacks. If he extends the competition beyond this week, it will show he's not sold on Sanchez, either.
"To definitively win the job, there needs to be more evidence," Ryan said, speaking of Smith. "We have to see more of both guys to have a better answer at this point."