Rex: Offense is Geno Smith's now

Updated: September 5, 2013, 9:12 PM ET
By Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are confident Geno Smith has a firm grasp of the team's offense heading into his pro debut Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium.

"This is his offense now," Jets coach Rex Ryan said Thursday.

The Jets named Smith their starter Wednesday after he won the competition against incumbent starter Mark Sanchez by default; Sanchez suffered a right shoulder injury in the preseason that will sideline him at least this week and possibly longer.

With Sanchez unavailable, the Jets turned to Smith, whom they took with their second-round pick (39th overall) in this year's draft. Smith did not play much during the preseason, as he rolled his ankle in the team's first preseason game, which caused him to miss the team's second preseason game. He also sat out the fourth game to keep him healthy for the opener.

In his lone game with extended playing time, Smith finished 16-of-30 with one touchdown and three interceptions in an overtime win against the New York Giants on Aug. 24. The rookie completed 22 of 37 passes for 246 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions combined in his two preseason games, earning a team-low quarterback rating of 54.6.

Ryan said Smith is moving around now like he was prior to rolling his ankle in early August.

"Geno's got a good grasp of our offense," Ryan said. "And we'll see what happens."

While playing at West Virginia, Smith was a dual-threat quarterback who primarily worked out of pistol or shotgun formations. Several Jets complimented him Wednesday for his strong arm, and his speed provides the offense with an element that no other quarterback on the roster possesses.

Ryan downplayed the notion that the Jets could implement more shotgun packages in the offense to help Smith feel more comfortable Sunday, but the Jets might turn to quick throws and three-step drops to help Smith get the ball out faster against a retooled Buccaneers defense.

New Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who utilizes a pass-heavy scheme, complimented Smith for the preparation he's done leading up to the game. He said some of the responsibility in helping Smith get through his first game will fall on his teammates.

"The other 10 players, as well as the specials teams and defense, kick it up a notch. Really, that's the important part of the thing for a young quarterback that's inexperienced. It's just that simple," Mornhinweg said. "Certainly, schematically the things going into the game plan, I may cross out a whole host of things as we get to Friday and Saturday depending on our conversations, what the film looks like, how Friday's practice looks and those sorts of things. The rest of the players jacking it up a notch is key."

On Wednesday, Smith said he expects Tampa Bay to bring extra pressure to try to rattle him and that he looks forward to that challenge. Ryan stressed that protecting Smith is key to making the youngster feel comfortable, and it would go a long way in helping neutralize an aggressive scheme.

Mornhinweg said he expects Tampa Bay will use blitzes to attack Smith but added that the Buccaneers also could sit in their base defense because they're confident they can hold up against a rookie making his first career start.

"I'm ready. I don't think I've been rushed," Smith said Wednesday. "I don't think they would put me out there if they didn't think I was ready. Like I said, I've been preparing my butt off. It's something that's going to continue to improve. My preparation will never change. I'm going to go out there with the intent to have a great game."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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