FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Air Geno? Well, not quite for the New York Jets.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has struggled mightily lately, having completed 25 passes in his past three games. That's 25 total — eight against New Orleans, eight at Buffalo and nine against Baltimore.
Consider this: Nine NFL quarterbacks completed at least 25 passes last Sunday alone. Smith looked every bit like a quarterback who was being put in position to not make a mistake rather than one being counted on to make a play in the Jets' 19-3 loss to the Ravens.
"I don't think so," Smith said Wednesday. "We've had plenty of opportunities to take shots down the field. One thing is that defenses are keying on that and playing us to that. They are trying to take that away."
Smith has one touchdown and 10 interceptions in his past six games, while Marty Mornhinweg's offense has appeared to become increasingly conservative lately.
Defensive gameplans and the mounting mistakes by Smith could be major reasons, as the Jets try to limit the quarterback from taking too many chances. Numerous injuries to the receivers and tight ends throughout the season have also affected things.
"Just shuffling parts, it's the NFL," Smith said. "We have guys that are injured, we have guys coming back off injuries. The precision is huge especially when you talk about lower-percentage passes like those ones going downfield. It's something we've been working on. I don't think we've shied away from it or gotten away from it. I just think we haven't executed it as well as we've done in the past."
Smith had 17 completions of 20 or more yards in September, 10 in October and just five in three games in November.
"I enjoy throwing the ball, obviously as a quarterback," Smith said. "When you get a chance to take shots, it's always fun. You give your guys an opportunity to make plays. I think we've done that in the past, maybe not as much as we did before due to some circumstances."
Smith also hasn't had more than 23 attempts in any of his past three games.
"Some of that's probably the number of reps," Rex Ryan said. "Percentages, I don't know what the percentages would be run to pass. I'm not sure, but again, I think if you had more plays, we'd probably have more opportunities to run the ball and throw.
"Is there a conscious effort of protecting the football? Absolutely, there's a conscious effort of doing that."
Smith's last touchdown pass came six weeks ago, when he connected with Jeremy Kerley in the first quarter of New York's 30-27 overtime victory over New England on Oct. 20. That's 19 quarters without a TD toss.
There have been calls for the inexperienced Matt Simms to start in place of Smith, and wide receiver Josh Cribbs has been working out of the wildcat package on an increasingly regular basis. Cribbs even completed a pass to Smith against the Ravens last week.
"Honestly, I like all of the plays that are called," Smith insisted. "I know that Marty spends a ton of time developing the game plan for us, one that will put us in the best situation."
Ryan bristled a bit when asked if the Jets aren't being aggressive enough on offense, going to the run a little too much in recent games. He pointed to Smith going 8 of 19 without a turnover in a 26-20 win over New Orleans on Nov. 3, when Chris Ivory rushed for 139 yards.
"There are different ways of attacking," Ryan said. "When it works, it makes sense. When it doesn't, hey, we're running too much, not running enough. I get it, no promise, my responsibility."
Smith has noticed opponents, especially the Ravens, stacking the box against the Jets recently, keying on the run and daring him to pass. It was an effective strategy last Sunday as Smith and the rest of New York's offense failed to get in synch.
"We don't make any excuses," Smith said. "If we run the ball and the box is stacked, we still have to get the yards, block and run the ball. And then if we pass the ball, we have to make plays down the field. We just have to execute better."
NOTES: S Ed Reed is still looking for a win in a game he's played this season. He was 0-7 with Houston, and is 0-2 with the Jets. "It's not an individual game, but of course I want to win," he said. "When we do win, I might dump Gatorade on myself, so be looking for that." ... Several Jets players have labeled the matchup with Miami a "must-win" game. "We're behind the 8-ball and we put ourselves there," linebacker Calvin Pace said.
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