"Regardless of anything, as long as there's a season next year, I'll be starting,'' Smith told Newsday's Kimberley A. Martin on Friday.
Echoing general manager John Idzik's comments from earlier this month, Ryan played coy earlier in the day about who would be his starting signal-caller.
"We can say it, but ... you don't know who your roster's gonna be,'' Ryan said. "So it's probably not the best thing to just say, 'Well, this guy's going to be a starter at this or that.' Let's just let it play out.''
However, Ryan sang Smith's praise for finishing the season strong.
"There are very few players that grew as much as Geno did, and he had to come a million miles -- and he did,'' Ryan said, per Newsday. "When you look at the way he closed out, we saw our team ascending. And part of that was the way Geno played. Statistically, he had (one of the highest) quarterback ratings over the last month of the season. So I think that's something that people don't focus on, but that's a fact.''
By not making any proclamations about Smith, Ryan appears to have learned from last year's declaration that Mark Sanchez would be the Jets' starter.
Geno, however, isn't worried. The quarterback pointed out to Newsday that his coach never said he wasn't ready to "commit" to him as the starter.
Smith interpreted Ryan's quote as merely saying that he is "not a guaranteed starter."
Smith expects to start, but the second-year player understands he must improve.
"We went 8-8, which is not good enough for our team,'' he said, "so we've got to get better.''