Sports

Frustrated by lousy start, Geno Smith and Jets' offense hold players-only meeting

New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick, right, sits on the bench near quarterback Geno Smith (7) during the second half of the Jets' NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick, right, sits on the bench near quarterback Geno Smith (7) during the second half of the Jets' NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)  (The Associated Press)

Geno Smith and the rest of the New York Jets' offense got together and huddled up.

Behind closed doors. No coaches. No media.

During an offensive players-only meeting Monday, the quarterback and his teammates spoke about what has gone so wrong, why they're 1-3 and what needs to change.

"Myself and a few other guys just expressed our feelings," Smith said, "and ways to move forward."

There was no finger pointing or passing blame. The Jets realize they've got themselves in a tough spot, with games at San Diego, home against Denver and at New England coming up.

If they don't get things turned around fast, Rex Ryan's team could be facing a full-blown crisis.

"No grievances," Smith said of the meeting. "I understand the semantics are a huge thing in this market, but no grievance. I don't want you guys to get that misunderstood. No one's hanging their head around here, no one's sad, no one's down on themselves. We're ready to go out and play."

That came a day after the Jets lost 24-17 to Detroit, Smith lashed out at a heckler using an expletive, and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said fans calling for a quarterback switch to Michael Vick should "shut up."

It was an ugly end to a lousy loss, and Smith made headlines more for what he said walking off the field than for anything he did — or didn't do — on the field. He and Ryan spoke about how he lost his cool, something he had managed to avoid all during a shaky rookie season and up until the scoreboard clock hit zero Sunday on the Jets' third straight loss.

"It should never happen, I know that," Smith said.

Smith wouldn't disclose what the fan said to him, but is aware that he faces a fine from the NFL for his actions.

"Whatever the ramifications will be," Smith said, "I will accept it."

Giants quarterback Eli Manning has resisted the urge to respond to hecklers during his 11 seasons playing in the area, and has learned that if fans are screaming at him "then you probably deserve it, in some sense."

"Yeah, every quarterback goes through it," Manning said. "You're going to have some good games and you're going to have some bad games. You'll have some tough stretches, just getting through it, working through it and work hard. And if you're doing the right things, it will ease up."

Smith has taken a lot of the blame for the Jets' early-season struggles, and much of the wrath is focused on his seven turnovers: five interceptions, two lost fumbles.

Some fans and media have suggested Smith has taken a step back in his development, a regression that has compromised the offense.

"You guys try to make it about something else, but it's football," Smith said. "When you play football, you understand that there are going to be a lot of ups and downs throughout a game and through a season. The key thing is that in this locker room, we're sticking together, we're going to get better from this and we're going to continue to move forward."

Chants of "We Want Vick!" echoed throughout MetLife Stadium at times Sunday, and several players complained about that after the game. Many of his teammates have publicly backed Smith, and so has Ryan, who did so again Monday.

"Because I believe in him," Ryan said. "I believe that we're going to get it done and I believe that he's going to be one of the main reasons we get it done and get it turned."

The Jets signed Vick in the offseason to give themselves a veteran backup who could get the offense back on track if Smith struggled. Vick didn't play a down Sunday.

"I'm only one person," Vick said when asked if he thinks he could be a solution. "I can't answer the question until I actually go out there and play three or four games and then maybe we can talk about it. As of right now, I can't just say I'll be the difference maker."

If Smith struggles again at San Diego, Vick might get that opportunity. He insists, though, that Smith hasn't lost any confidence and just needs to stay patient.

For the Jets and Smith, their season could depend on it.

"I don't anticipate us as a team continuing to struggle," Ryan said. "I think this team needs a win in the worst way, and I think that will help us more than anything. We have guys that believe in each other and I think, to a man, that our team believes in Geno."

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AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, New Jersey, contributed to this story.

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