In an interview with WFAN-AM on Thursday, Jets coach Rex Ryan said Smith "knows the offense forward and backwards" and is "going to be hard to beat out" for the starting quarterback job. Michael Vick, signed by the Jets in March, will be Smith's primary competition in training camp.
"This young man is going to be hard to beat out," Ryan said. "Even as talented a player as Mike Vick is, I think Geno Smith has made that big a stride. And again, the proof will be in the pudding when we play this thing out, but that's my confidence in him."
Ryan didn't close the door on Vick winning the No. 1 spot, saying the veteran "definitely has a chance to win the job." But the subtext was clear: Geno Smith will have a substantial head start in the race to the Week 1 opener against the Oakland Raiders.
Smith's favorite status bears the fingerprints of general manager John Idzik, who was the driving force behind the selection of the quarterback with the 39th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Bailing on Smith in Year 2 would be an acknowledgement of failure the Jets aren't prepared to make.
Smith's improved play down the stretch of last season gives him the benefit of the doubt -- for now.