New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith missed team meetings just hours before he was benched in favor of Michael Vick at halftime during a 31-0 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, according to the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta. Smith’s struggles on and off the field have generated speculation that he will be permanently replaced as the team’s starting quarterback.
Smith made an “honest mistake” when he arrived after the end of a team meeting on Saturday, a Jets spokesman said. He and other unnamed Jets teammates missed the meetings after they “messed up” the three-hour difference between the Eastern and Pacific time zones during a trip to the movies, a source told ESPN.com.
While Jets officials said this was the first time Smith has missed a meeting, some teammates were reportedly “angered” by his absence. It’s unclear if Smith was disciplined for the incident.
Smith was ineffective against the Chargers, completing just four of 12 passes for 27 yards and an interception en route to a career-worst 7.6 passer rating. “It was definitely a pathetic showing on my part,” Smith said. “I didn’t help out at any point of the game. … So what I’m going to do is look myself in the mirror.”
Vick, Smith’s backup and the man long rumored to supplant him as the Jets’ starting quarterback, didn’t fare much better -- he went for 8 of 19 for 47 yards. Neither player was able to engineer a single scoring drive.
But that hasn’t stopped Jets' fans from continuously calling on Ryan to play Vick, a four-time Pro Bowler with multiple career playoff berths, over the struggling second-year player. This season, Smith has presided over the Jets’ first four-game losing streak since Ryan took over the team in 2009. In addition, he was fined $12,000 for cursing at a fan after a Sept. 28 loss to the Detroit Lions, and snapped at reporters last week who asked if Vick could provide a boost to the Jets’ anemic offense.
Despite Smith’s recent woes, Ryan told reporters Sunday that he has no intention of switching quarterbacks. “We do have a good player in Michael Vick, but it could’ve been Joe Namath [against the Chargers] and it wouldn’t have made any difference,” Ryan said, according to ESPN.
“I’m going with Geno Smith,” he added. “This [loss] wasn’t on him. He wasn’t the guy out there blocking or blowing assignments or doing whatever. It’s not on one player. It’s on one individual, and that’s me. Geno will be our quarterback next week. That’s just the way it is.”
Still, Ryan’s willingness to play Vick against the Chargers -- albeit in a relief role -- suggests that Smith may be running out of time to prove his mettle. Prior to Sunday’s game, Vick had thrown just one pass all season. With the Jets at 1-4 and Ryan’s job potentially on the line, Vick could soon be in line for an increased workload.