The Jets tricked everyone for a while into thinking they were a rejuvenated franchise led by a promising rookie quarterback, and dominant defense. However, their recent success proved to be nothing more than a clever charade as the real New York Jets turned up in Tennessee on Sunday.
Geno Smith turned the ball over four-times, and his teammates gave away 12 penalties, as the Jets were embarrassed by the Tennessee Titans 38-13 at LP Field in Nashville. The result left Rex Ryan “shocked” at his team’s performance.
“Well, we got beat in every phase of the game,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “From offense, defense, special teams, coaching, you name it and it shocks me. I never expected for the game to turn out like this.”
Smith threw two interceptions, and fumbled the ball twice which led to 28 points for the Titans. Smith has now turned the ball over a league leading 11-times through four games, a statistic he currently shares with the Giants’ Eli Manning.
Rex Ryan would not give Smith a pass for his mistakes on an account of his lack of experience.
“How many times are we going to make that excuse?” he asked. “One of these days we’re going to have to learn from them, and it better be soon. The team we’re going to play next [the Atlanta Falcons] is a pretty good darn football team, so we better learn in a hurry. It has to get better.”
The rookie accepted full responsibility for his performance, calling it “piss poor” in his post game press conference, and personally apologized to several members of the defense in the locker room.
According to veteran linebacker Antwan Barnes, Smith told several defensive players “It won’t happen again.”
“All I can do is put my trust in him,” Barnes said. He said he’s got to do better, so I believe in him.”
Smith finished his woeful day 23-for-34 for 289 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and two fumbles. Smith’s lone touchdown to TE Jeff Cumberland came late in the game, and only served to make the score a little less lopsided, by that point the Jets were already down for the count.
Smith’s turnover problems are nothing new; he had seven through the first 3 games. However, unlike the Jets’ previous three games, the defense wasn’t there to bail the rookie out. The defense continually worked from inside their own half after Smith surrounded possession; the Titans started drives from the 18, 26, and 46 yard line. And the Jets normally stout defense surrounded 4 touchdowns — all through the air.
Titans QB, Jake Locker, left the game early with an apparent hip injury, but threw 3-touchdowns to Delanie Walker, Nate Washington and Justin Hunter. Lockers replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick, also added a scoring toss on a deep 77-yard pass to Washington, over the head of the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie.
“That’s on me fully,” Cromartie said. “Me being the number one corner on this team, I need to make sure that I go up and intercept that ball or bat it down.”
Smiths day got off to the worst possible start. On the second play of the game, Smith’s first pass attempt of the game, he under-threw Stephen Hill and was intercepted by cornerback Alterraun Verner. To make matters worse, Hill was then blasted with a helmet-to-helmet hit by safety Michael Griffin and knocked out of the game due to a concussion.
Smiths second turnover came in the second quarter as a result of poor ball security. As he scrambled to his right, Smith dangled the ball out in one hand, and the Titans Zach Brown swatted it loose. Putting the Titans in great field position en-route to another score.
“I was just reckless with the ball,” Smith said. “That’s not what we preach around here, That’s not what I’m coached to do.”
Despite the nightmare start the Jets were only down 17-6 and were in a position to close the gap on the Titans before halftime. However, Smith again threw into the hands of Verner, which led to another Titans score and a 24-6 halftime lead.
Jets fans thought they had seen every example of poor quarterback play during the Mark Sanchez era. However, for his fourth and final turnover, Geno Smith unveiled his own version of Sanchez’s famous “Butt Fumble”: the behind-the-butt-fumble. With Titans defensive tackle Karl Klug bearing down on him, Smith attempted to switch the ball from one hand to the other behind his back, resulting in a fumble, which was recovered by Klug in the endzone for a touchdown.
“It was kind of one of those tough situations,” Smith said. “My only reaction was to swing my left hand around and grab it before I fumbled it. I couldn’t get it around.”
“I’ll get better from this, I’m one of those guys that can put this in my memory bank, put it behind me, and find a way to get better from it,” Smith said after the game.
He better learn quickly; the Jets now begin their toughest stretch of the season starting next week with the Atlanta Falcons (1-3) on Monday Night Football.