- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
- 0 Shares
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The color-coded quarterback wristband won't be making a comeback with the New York Jets, after all.
Three hours after suggesting he might dust off the infamous "red-green-yellow" system he used with Mark Sanchez in 2009, coach Rex Ryan decided Wednesday to red-light the idea, hoping to fix turnover-prone rookie Geno Smith with more conventional measures.
Ryan's flip flop shows he's scrambling for solutions.
"It's a young season -- we're at the quarter stage -- but we clearly have some things we have to fix," Ryan said. "Protecting the football is the No. 1 thing, along with penalties."
Ryan's patience is wearing thin as Smith's giveaways continue to mount. He's coming off his worst game -- a four-turnover nightmare in the Jets' 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
At his daily news conference, Ryan mentioned the possibility of recycling the remedial system he first used in the 11th game of the 2009 season. That year, Ryan made Sanchez wear a green-red-yellow wristband with specific plays in each color category, a system devised to help the quarterback know how aggressive (green) or conservative (red) he should be with a particular pass play.
"Hey, whatever it takes," Ryan said, adding: "I've been thinking about it. There's a fine line between being aggressive and being smart with it as well."
Ryan said he'd see how the week progressed before making a final decision, but he didn't need long to figure he didn't want to go there. After practice, he told ESPN 98.7 FM he decided not go back to the color system.
Maybe he didn't want to clutter Smith's head with extra information. Or maybe Ryan didn't want to expose his impressionable quarterback to the scrutiny that most certainly would come from doing something associated with Sanchez's growing pains as a rookie.
It means Smith won't be wearing a wristband that resembles a Lifesaver candy wrapper when he faces the Atlanta Falcons (1-3) on Monday night at the Georgia Dome.
On Wednesday, Smith practiced ball security by participating in running back drills. He was instructed to hold the ball high and tight, focusing on the three points of pressure. He ran through a gauntlet of would-be tacklers, players grabbing at the ball.
This occurred after the taxing quarterback footwork drill. The idea, of course, was to learn how to protect the ball while fatigued.
"It's something that we're probably going to do more and more, just to assure that we don't have those turnovers again," Smith said.
Against the Titans, Smith lost two fumbles because of reckless ballhandling. The latter occurred on what is now known as the Behind-the-Butt Fumble, a play in which he tried to switch hands behind his back while being sacked at his goal line. The fumble was recovered for a Tennessee touchdown.
Ryan said he's not considering a change at quarterback, but his patience is being tested by Smith, who could be hurt by a handful of changes on offense.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes is expected to miss multiple games with a serious hamstring injury, a source said. Fellow receiver Stephen Hill is a long shot this week because of a concussion. Titans safety Michael Griffin who delivered the hit to Hill last Sunday, said Wednesday that he has been fined $21,000 by the NFL but will appeal as he maintains he led with his shoulder and not his helmet.
"I'd say it's a concern when your top guys are out," Ryan said. "Obviously, that doesn't help you, for sure."
There also will be a change in the offensive line. Rookie Brian Winters, a third-round pick, will replace veteran Vladimir Ducasse. Ryan confirmed that Winters will practice this week with the starters.
With a banged-up receiving corps, Ryan joked that he might use the Wishbone against the Falcons.
"That would be something, wouldn't it?" he said. "Maybe we should."
ESPN.com Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky contributed to this report.
The color-coded quarterback wristband won't be making a comeback with the New York Jets, after all.