- Stephen A. Smith, ESPNNewYork.com columnist
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We spent the end of last season wondering if Rex Ryan would remain the Jets' coach. We spent the offseason wondering if Mark Sanchez would start the 2013 season as the Jets' quarterback. We've wondered about the decision-making at the top, who's in charge of the offense, the play calling and, of course, when Geno Smith would become the team's starting QB. And now that the decision's been made, suddenly there are questions about that, too!
Back in the land of the living, relevant to most teams in the NFL, decisions are made for all the right reasons. Consequences are contemplated, and those who make the decisions are conspicuous, reputable and accountable.
But these are the New York Jets we're talking about, headline-mongers that would put reality TV stars to shame. So forgiveness is usually required, for all the comical reasons one can muster.
Have ya heard the latest, folks? After months of swearing allegiance to Geno Smith and promising Gang Green is all about moving on from the Mark Sanchez era, Jets third-string quarterback Matt Simms is suddenly in the mix!
According to reports, Smith, fresh off a three-interception fourth-quarter performance against the Patriots last Thursday, could be done as the Jets' starting quarterback if he's subpar against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. All in favor of Simms -- son of former Giants quarterback Phil Simms -- who is blessed with nothing but a quality preseason game against third-stringers and NFL pedigree on his side.
To be clear, Simms is not being knocked here. The kid did throw for 285 yards against the Eagles, not to mention help the Jets to consecutive wins to end the preseason. For all we know, he's performed admirably in practice, and he undoubtedly has good genes.
But that doesn't put the Jets in the clear. It shouldn't absolve them from scrutiny over their tendency to steal headlines. Nor should it dissipate our disgust over their penchant for doing a better job at PR than at actually winning football games.
"I'm a competitor," Smith said earlier this week. "I haven't heard anything about [Simms' possibly starting] and I'm not worried about it. This is the NFL. Everyone understands competition is part of the process. My job is to focus on what I have to do to help our team win football games. I can't worry about anything else."
The perfect attitude from a young quarterback who's been far from perfect so far. When you're completing only 53 percent of your passes -- mirroring Sanchez, which is almost never a good thing -- you need to come across as someone solely focused on getting the job done. The thing is, Geno-the-rookie appears as if he could teach the Jets a thing or two about setting their sights on improvement, despite his inexperience.
As things stand, the Jets' offense is 25th in the league in passing yards (202). They're 31st in turnover differential (minus-4), 29th in points per game (14), 25th in yards per game (311) and 21st in third-down conversion rate (36.1 percent).
With numbers like that, essentially, you don't have an offense. Considering that this present trend would mark the third consecutive year the Jets are walking around with one of the more anemic offensive resumes in the game, despite the changes that have been made, the last thing anyone should be hearing is alarm bells concerning Geno Smith, who has shown more than enough promise to avoid getting yanked after Week 3.
Yet we're hearing them anyway.
The question is why?
Headlines? Mind games with Geno Smith?
We don't know, but we should care. Because neither scenario is a good thing. In fact, it's a different kind of nonsense that no one should welcome when it comes to the Jets.
If it's headlines, it's more of the same with Woody Johnson's Jets. "The more we're in the papers, the more relevant we are, and that's never bad for business" is what the Jets' owner seems to be saying through the moves he's made. He said it when he hired Rex Ryan. He said it again when he wouldn't silence his head coach. And he certainly said it when he allowed the walking circus that was Tim Tebow to enter Jets camp, knowing the cameras and tape recorders would be more prevalent than Tebow's contributions on the field.
If the latest Geno issue involves mind games, perhaps it's a concerted effort by the Jets to deviate from what they've spent the past four years doing: coddling Sanchez like a newborn baby instead of treating him like an NFL quarterback.
In the end, the Jets trot out the same ol' tired story: "We'll do what we feel is best for our team," Rex Ryan has continuously stated. "We're trying to win football games, that's all."
Yeah, yeah, yeah ...
Yet, it's the Buffalo Bills who are scheduled to saunter into town with a rookie quarterback, EJ Manuel, armed with the necessary structure, coaching and counsel Geno Smith should be enjoying with his team.
J-E-T-S ... Jets! Jets! Jets!
EJ Manuel has the Bills' full support, and the Jets should do the same for Geno.