NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Geno Smith is ready to move on from a miserable week-long stretch.
The struggling New York Jets quarterback, who was fined by the NFL for cursing at a fan last weekend, missed a team meeting the night before Sunday’s 31-0 loss to the San Diego Chargers in which he was benched.
Both Smith and coach Rex Ryan said that the absence was an “honest mistake” after the second-year quarterback confused the times for the meeting in San Diego on Saturday night. Ryan said the Jets usually set their schedules according to Eastern time when they travel, including changing hotel clocks, to keep their body clocks consistent.
“Mainly, I just counted down instead of counting up and just got the times mixed up,” Smith said during a conference call Monday night. “So I guess you could say I was thinking I was on East Coast time when we were actually on West Coast time. That was just my mishap. It really had nothing to do with the time zones. I’m aware of that. For that moment, I got that mixed up.”
Smith acknowledged he was watching a movie — he wouldn’t say which one — at a theater when he realized about 30 minutes in that he might have made a mistake with the times. He had no cell service, so he walked out to call a teammate, who told him he had the times confused.
Smith then left the theater and arrived five to 10 minutes after the meeting ended and reviewed what was discussed with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach David Lee. Ryan said Smith, who was “panicking, hustling in,” was present for two additional later meetings in preparation for the game.
“I felt really bad about it. I ended up apologizing,” he said. “I kind of felt like I let a lot of people down. That’s definitely not in my character to not be on time for a meeting.”
It was the first time Smith had missed a meeting, according to Ryan, who indicated that the team has disciplinary measures in place for situations like this.
“He’ll be treated no different than any other player,” said Ryan, who declined to say what the discipline would be, but added that he didn’t consider benching the quarterback for the start of the game.
The New York Daily News first reported Smith’s absence early Monday. ESPN reported that Smith was with a few teammates at the movie theater, but neither Smith nor Ryan would identify them.
“I’m not here to talk about anybody else,” Smith said. “So, I think you’d have to ask them that.”
Smith answered questions, becoming agitated at times, all last week about his job security and calls by some fans and media for Michael Vick to replace him. He is off to a rough start that includes him shouting an expletive at a heckler as he walked off the MetLife Stadium field last Sunday following the Jets’ 24-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. He immediately apologized, but was fined $12,000 by the NFL last Friday.
“I would say it’s uncharacteristic,” Smith said of his recent issues. “I’m not the guy that’s always in the tabloids. I like to stay low-key. But I’ve made some mistakes in the past two weeks and I’m aware of it. I’ve also caused a distraction for my teammates by doing so, so my first thing is to apologize to them because we’re focused on one thing and one thing only, and that’s football.”
Smith was benched Sunday in favor of Vick after a first half in which he was 4 of 12 for 27 yards with an interception. Vick also struggled, going 8 of 19 for 47 yards as the Jets lost their fourth straight game and were the first team this season to be shut out.
Some team members weren’t happy with Smith for missing Saturday’s meeting, the Daily News reported.
“I believe he understands that the quarterback, as the leader, that those things are unacceptable,” center Nick Mangold said of Smith missing the meeting. “In the future, I don’t expect that to come up again. I think it wasn’t just on Geno, this past game, so you can’t pinpoint that and say, ‘Well, that was the reason we lost.’ We had about a million other reasons that contributed to it.”
Ryan took the blame for the loss and said Smith will start against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium next Sunday.
“That’s our quarterback and we’re going to stick with him,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “I think he’ll have some good days moving forward.”
Smith has started all five games this season. He has six interceptions, four touchdown passes and two lost fumbles. That comes after an up-and-down rookie season in which he had 21 interceptions and 12 TDs while starting all 16 games.
“I’m aware of what I can do on the field, so my confidence is sky-high,” Smith said. “But I’ve got to produce.”
NOTES: CB Darrin Walls is dealing with a patellar tendon injury, and Ryan was uncertain of his status. … LB David Harris had an MRI exam that revealed no structural damage to his injured shoulder, and is day to day.
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