Tom Brady would have eventually beaten out Drew Bledsoe but the Jets expedited his ascension to the Patriots’ starting quarterback job when Mo Lewis hammered Bledsoe late in the second game of the 2001 season. The Jets have been paying for it ever since.

Although they’ve been chasing Brady for the last 12 years the Jets experienced the second-greatest moment in team history at his expense when Mark Sanchez outplayed Brady in the 2010 divisional round of the playoffs.

From a Jets perspective however that victory hardly makes up for Brady’s five Super Bowl appearances and three victories since the day Lewis KO’d Bledsoe.

Rookie Geno Smith gets a first-hand look at what it takes to be a winning quarterback when he starts against Brady on Thursday night in Foxborough. Consider that in the 23 games Brady has started against the Jets he is 18-5 including 1-1 in the playoffs the Jets have started Vinny Testaverde Chad Pennington Kellen Clemens Brett Favre Sanchez and now Smith.

Basically everybody who has played quarterback for them except Joe Namath.

Smith hardly played lights-out in the Jets’ season-opening victory over the Bucs he overcame his fumble and interception by directing two fourth-quarter field-goal drives and he’s going to have to play much better for the Jets to have a shot to beat Brady who despite being 36 years old and in his 14th season has no intention of quitting anytime soon.

Even with all the changing parts in New England this season the Patriots always have a chance because they have Brady. Maybe one day the Jets will say the same about Smith as they once hoped they could say about Sanchez. Smith will get a good education in his first exposure to Bill Belichick who figures to cook up something special to frustrate him.

“I embrace the challenge” Smith said. “I know coach Belichick is one of the masterminds in this league. I have a ton of respect for him and his team. I expect everything every single look. I will appreciate it because it will help me out in the future. Every single look I get from here on out is going to help me out and I look forward to it. I’m going to prepare myself for pretty much anything because that’s what you can expect coming from that team.”