"I think he's taken off from where he left off [last season]," Ryan said. "I expect great things in the future."
Smith was the choice over Michael Vick, ending a competition that never really was an open competition. Vick admitted as much throughout the spring, saying he expected Smith to get the job.
Several other players, too, have been referring to Smith as the starter.
"All along, I've had the notion that I'd be out there Week 1," said Smith, who received the news from reporters at his postgame news conference. "The handwriting was pretty much on the wall. It's a big deal, but nothing will change. It's the same mindset for me."
For Smith, the Jets' second-round pick in 2013, it's the first public acknowledgement that he's the full-time starter. He won the job by default as a rookie after Mark Sanchez suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last preseason, ending their competition.
Throughout the 2013 season, Ryan and general manager John Idzik played the semantics game, referring to Smith as their week-to-week starter. Not even a strong finish was enough to garner a public endorsement from the hierarchy.
The Jets signed Vick to a one-year, $4 million contract to push Smith, who remained the preferred choice -- even if the organization never publicly identified him that way.
After Friday's game, Ryan sidestepped a question on whether Smith could now be considered the full-time starter. He was just being coy; this time, it's the real thing.
"This is no slight to Mike Vick, believe me," Ryan said. "I wanted to come out of this knowing we had two really good quarterbacks that we think can win games. In my heart, I think we have two we can win games with."
Smith validated the organization's faith in him by cutting down on his turnovers. In five quarters of play in the preseason, he has thrown only one interception. He has completed 70 percent of his passes (23 for 33) for 268 yards with one touchdown.
He has improved his decision-making, pocket presence and his mechanics. Against the Giants, he was 9-for-14 for 137 yards and a touchdown -- a 1-yard pass to rookie tight end Jace Amaro .
"I'm really, really, really pleased with how Geno played [in the preseason], especially tonight," Ryan said.
"This was a little better than the last time he was here, playing against the same opponent," he added -- a reference to Smith's three-interception nightmare last summer against the Giants.
In training camp, Smith has taken about 80 percent of the first-team reps. It was his job to lose, and he didn't do anything to lose it.
"Did I have any doubt? I didn't let doubt creep into my mind," Smith said. "I always come in with the same mindset: If I do what I have to do, I can be the starting quarterback and lead this team."