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For Geno Smith, Jets, a 4th Quarter to Learn From

Posted Sep 16, 2013

It may have been a long weekend for Geno Smith but it wasn't a lost weekend. Our starting quarterback spent it bouncing back from his and the offense's finish to Thursday night's loss at New England.

"We played a clean game for about 3½ quarters. The last 12 plays of the game, in my opinion, were fairly sloppy," Smith said after today's return to practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "I think I tried to force things. It didn't work out for us. But we've moved on from it and now it's time to focus on Buffalo."

But before moving on, reporters wished one more reflection on his last eight passes in those last dozen plays, which produced his three interceptions. Were they more the result of bad throws or bad decisions?

"Both," he said. "In those tight spaces, with the game on the line, you've got to be 100 percent precise, and I don't think I was on those throws."

Smith's confidence and his accuracy are strengths that will carry him over this rough patch. But there is one thing he knows yet still must internalize and make a part of his QB chemistry in the NFL: Turnovers = Bad. Here are a few more reminders of that equation:

■ In franchise history, we are 0-38-1 in games with four more giveaways than takeaways. In all games minus-4 or worse, we are 0-51-1.

■ That's not just a team trend. In the NFL since 2002, teams that have gone minus-4 or worse in a game are 8-274, a .028 winning percentage.

■ The Patriots, the NFL's reigning takeaway kings, are 18-0 when they're plus-4 since 2001. And since midway through 2002, they are 61-0 in all games in which they are plus-2 or better.

■ Since our Super Bowl III season, we've had a minus-3 fourth quarter 11 times. We lost all 11.

These last two bullet points came together for Mark Sanchez in 2009, his first start against New England at Gillette Stadium. That November day Sanchez threw four interceptions, the Jets were minus-4 in turnovers on the game and minus-3 in the last quarter. The Pats prevailed, 31-14.

How does a rookie NFL starter, with everything that's already on his plate, avoid forcing throws with the game on the line?

"You’ve got to do it. You can’t have those mistakes," Smith said. "Regardless of whose fault it is, it can’t happen. The way to avoid it is to emphasize it in practice, to stick to your fundamentals when you’re out there on the field. Just go out there and play aggressive, but at the same time be mindful of the situation.

"I think down there in the red zone, I could’ve maybe tucked the ball and ran instead of trying to fit it into a tight window, keeping three points on the board, just managing the situations, continuing to stick to my fundamentals, and just going out there being aggressive and having fun."

Those are some of the ways to prevent offensive meltdowns. Now if it's that easy, if Geno Smith can make those changes to his game that quickly, Sunday's home game against Buffalo has more of a chance of turning out like the home opener against Tampa Bay and less like the Patriots' home opener in Foxboro.

Rex Cetera

Head coach Rex Ryan had DE Muhammad Wilkerson and LB Quinton Coples, both with ankle injuries, back on the field today. Ryan wasn't providing much of a peak at either player's availability for the Bills. About Mo: "I wouldn't say he's 100 percent back, but I hope he's ready to roll." On Coples: "He was with our trainers and our strength and conditioning guys. I think he did some individual drills, not with the group but by himself. ... He's doing an incredible job on his rehab. It'd be great to get him back."

Rex was not projecting first-round CB Dee Milliner's return to the starting lineup yet after Milliner's benching at the half vs. New England. "It's not that I'm totally 'He's failed.' That's not the case. We've got to correct a few things," Ryan said. "What I've really been proud of is the way Kyle [Wilson]'s responded. Really all the guys have stepped up, [Darrin] Walls in particular." Has he decided on Sunday's LCB starter? "No I haven't. I just want to let this week play out."

Ryan Quigley has replaced Robert Malone at punter, with reporter Charlie Frankel's story going up on the site shortly. We also re-signed LB Scott Solomon to the active roster (with the spot vacated by Sanchez's placement on "short-term IR"). Then on the practice squad, LB Danny Lansanah returns and WR Rahsaan Vaughan is released.

Geno Smith and Vlad Ducasse will be the guests on "Inside the Jets" at 7 p.m. ET from the Grasshopper Off the Green in Morristown, N.J., with the show airing on ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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