Geno Smith accepted the mantle of leadership for the offense and the team passed on from Ryan Fitzpatrick through head coach Todd Bowles today, and Smith said all the right things as he returned to running the first offense in practice and preparing for the tough road ahead.
"I think it's an opportunity for all of us to go out there and get a win," Smith said at his locker today as the Jets starting QB for a regular-season game for the first time since the end of the 2014 season.
"We're on a four-game losing streak, no one likes it, there's a bitter taste in our mouths. And we've just got to put together some good practices, build momentum up until the game, and then go out there and just play recklessly, man, play hard with reckless abandon and do whatever we have to do to get this victory.
"Honestly, it's not about me. It's about every single guy in this locker room. It's about the entire offense finding their rhythm and trying to win. It's not about one player, one person. It never has been. So we're going to go out there together and try and get it done."
One of the players in the locker room, of course, is Fitzpatrick, who had the difficult task of saying that he's disappointed in Bowles' decision and yet not alibiing the reasons for the benching.
"We're 1-5, so something has to change, and the way we played on offense the last four weeks, something had to change, so I guess I was the change," he said. "I haven't played well, so I can't sit here and say ... I haven't played well, I think that's the bottom line. I want to be out there, but it's not my decision."
"I wish I had the answer" to the offense's doldrums that have produced three touchdowns the last four games (one on a fumble return) and an NFL-leading 12 interceptions thrown for the year. "We just haven't really been able to put drives together. You can pin it on turnovers, but really a lot of turnovers happened late in the game when we were behind. There's lots of different things where we're just not clicking on all cylinders, whether it's the run game or the pass game."
QB changes in midstream affect all players on a team, and one of the players most vocal about Fitzpatrick painted a positive picture about the road ahead for the offense under Smith.
"It's definitely tough to see a teammate struggle," WR Brandon Marshall said. "But it's also really tough to be a part of this struggle, you know? It takes all the guys on offense, the protection, wide receivers being where they're supposed to be, running the right routes, not having tipped balls, so that's the toughest part of it.
"The reason we all feel in love with Ryan and the reason we love Ryan so much is you know what you're going to get from him every single day, on and off the field. And I feel that's something that Geno has benefited from, having Ryan in the room -- they all do."
But No. 15, now with No. 14 taking a seat, didn't take long to become a fan of No. 7.
"The thing that Geno needed to learn, which he did, is not about anything football. It's about coming to work every single day and being consistent," Marshall said. "I think the person that's benefited the most from this past year and a half has been Geno. It's been amazing to see this guy grow."
As Smith said, we'll all see some of that growth Sunday against the Ravens. He was asked if the offense can overcome its struggles of recent weeks.
"Honestly, I think we have no choice," he said. "I believe that every single guy is hungry right now. We put ourselves in this position. It's only up to us to dig ourselves out of it."