Geno Smith is on the verge of losing the Jets’ quarterback competition fair and square no matter how much general manager John Idzik tries to rig it.

Rex Ryan was the loyal company man once again during a 10-minute conference call with reporters Thursday refusing to admit the obvious: Mark Sanchez is closing in on the Week 1 starting job entering the second preseason game against the Jaguars at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night.

Ryan sounded like he was reading a statement penned by his first-year GM with all the stonewalling jargon about the evaluation process.

“This competition is not complete” Ryan said. “When it is when we feel like we have enough information then we’ll make our decision. We’re not going to get into who’s ahead who’s not. I’ll say right now the competition is not complete. There’s still time to make that decision.”

The Idzik-ified Rex (programmed and not believable) is slowly killing Independent Rex (authentic and blunt).

A Rex divided against itself cannot stand. Just ask George Costanza.

Thankfully Independent Rex hasn’t disappeared yet.

The head coach was right to call Smith’s interception derby at practice earlier this week “brutal.” If Ryan spoke in gentler tones he would have been excoriated for coddling another young quarterback. It was a no-win situation but he handled it perfectly.

So it was disappointing when Ryan wouldn’t even say whether Smith will play on Saturday night. The faction within the organization that desperately wants Smith to win the quarterback competition (led by Idzik) signed off on the decision to let the rookie practice all week on a gimpy ankle.

It backfired.

Smith’s play during practice this week predictably declined and his health predictably didn’t improve. Now Idzik — the CEO of Geno Inc. — is prepared to change the rules of the competition to help out his guy.

Would the GM have done the same for Sanchez if he had rolled his ankle in the preseason opener and looked bad in practice this week? Unless you’re a cave dweller you know the answer to that.

Smith had a fair chance to win the job entering training camp. It’s unfortunate that he sprained his right ankle on a scramble in the preseason opener against the Lions last week but the competition didn’t suddenly become unfair because of that occurrence. Sanchez shouldn’t be penalized for being more durable.

The NFL doesn’t stop for injuries. There is no pause button in football.