Photo Credit: Getty Images
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith has apologized for missing a team meeting the day before his team’s 31-0 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 5. A week earlier, Smith was embroiled in another controversy when he cursed at a fan after the Jets lost to the Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“Geno Smith sat down to enjoy a movie in San Diego Saturday night when something just felt a little off. After a half hour he checked his phone and saw he didn’t have cell service, so he went outside to call a teammate about when meetings were — and realized his mistake.
“‘Mainly I just counted down instead (of) counting up and got the times mixed up,’ Smith said via conference call on Monday. ‘So I guess you could say I was thinking I was on west coast time, I mean thinking we were on east coast time when we were actually on west coast time. That was just my mishap and it really had nothing to do with the time zones I’m aware of that but for that moment, I got that mixed up.’
“‘Felt really bad about it, ended up apologizing,’ Smith said. ‘…Felt like I let a lot of people down, that’s definitely not in my character.’
“The fact that the Jets lost 31-0 to San Diego didn’t make Smith look any better, but the fact that backup quarterback Michael Vick came in for the second half and couldn’t score either didn’t make Smith look any worse.
“Smith didn’t want to discuss what the movie was that he went to see, and Ryan didn’t want to talk about how many or which teammate joined their quarterback for the viewing party — or what the disciplinary process was for Smith other than saying there were procedures in place when it came to missing meetings.
“‘We’ll deal with it internally and we have,’ Ryan said.
“Ryan said he never thought of benching Smith for inadvertently playing hooky. Other players have made similar mistakes on west coast time. Ryan said his second-year quarterback made an honest mistake and will learn from it.
“‘It’s just a one-time thing,’ Ryan said.
“The Jets are now in a 1-4 hole with (the) Denver (Broncos) on their way in this weekend, and then a short week following with a Thursday night game at New England to follow.
“…Last week Smith cursed at a fan as he left the field at MetLife Stadium after a loss to the (Detroit) Lions and was later fined $12,000 by the league. Smith appeared tense during the week when asked if Vick should be inserted in the game to provide a spark. Vick was indeed put in the game in San Diego, but there wasn’t much of a spark.
“Smith has been fortunate that his coach and teammates still support him through these growing pains.
“‘I think we all make mistakes as we go along,’ center Nick Mangold said. ‘And I think it’s just a factor of owning up to it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I believe he understands that the quarterback, as the leader, that those things are unacceptable and in the future, I don’t expect that to come up again.'”
McManus’ colleague at ESPN New York, Rich Cimini, weighed in on Smith’s latest misstep in his Oct. 8 blog:
“Call him a ‘sorry’ quarterback.
“One week after apologizing for cursing a fan, Geno Smith was back at it Wednesday, revealing that he apologized to teammates for missing a team meeting last Saturday night in San Diego. He delivered the mea culpa Monday, 24 hours after the New York Jets’ ugly 31-0 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
“‘I definitely apologized to the entire team,’ the quarterback told reporters at his locker. ‘It doesn’t just affect one person, it affects us all. In that moment, I apologized, and the guys told me to move on, so that’s what I did.’
“This has been a terrible stretch for Smith — three straight poor performances and two embarrassing incidents. He’s the lowest-rated starter in the league (69.3), even lower than Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Blake Bortles, but Smith somehow retains his job. He will start Sunday against the Denver Broncos (3-1).
“Rex Ryan is under fire for sticking with Smith. The coach acknowledged that missing a meeting is ‘not typical of what a leader would do,’ but claimed it was an ‘aberration.’ Ryan sounded like he was quoting from the movie, ‘The Sixth Sense,’ when he said, ‘I see things that maybe not everybody sees.’ No, not dead people. He used the example of Smith, on his day off, watching extra film with a group of seven receivers.
“Curiously, though, Ryan didn’t give a direct answer when asked if he feels Smith is the quarterback that gives the Jets the best chance to win. He did the ‘ol stutter step before saying, ‘I do believe Geno will find a way to get it done.’ Maybe Ryan avoided the question out of deference to Michael Vick. Who knows?
“…There are two ways to view Smith’s recent ‘mishaps,’ as Vick called them. Either he’s experiencing a severe case of growing pains or he’s unraveling because of the pressure. Former Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker downplayed Smith’s on-field struggles, saying, ‘Even Peyton wasn’t all glory when he was a young buck.
“…Smith /4/have to play the game of his life to get out of this jam. The home fans will turn on him in a New York minute with the first big mistake. It’s a tough spot, to be sure, but he brought much of it on himself.
“‘We’ll find out if he has the ability to persevere,’ Vick said.”
Smith has thrown for 3,995 yards, 16 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in 21 career regular-season games with the Jets through Oct. 9, per ESPN stats.