Earlier this month, Michael Vick claimed that the 2014 New York Jets quarterback competition is dead – Geno Smith is the starter. He explained this to NJ.com by telling them that his goal is simply to help Smith get better.
“Geno’s the starting quarterback for that football team,” Vick said. “Ultimately our goal is to try to help Geno become the best quarterback that he can be. Myself and (third-string QB Matt Simms) are all trying to put him in a position where he can get better from year one to year two.” Vick said that he and Smith are friends and added, “I wouldn’t say I’d necessarily be OK with sitting on the bench, but I know what I signed up for.”
This is certainly a nice sentiment from Vick, but in the NFL, teams are short on patience. And the Jets won’t sit through another season where Smith throws 21 interceptions. That said, head coach Rex Ryan has a different take on the matter.
May the Best Man win
New York took Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft hoping that he could be their quarterback of the future. His rookie campaign was anything but stellar, though, as he garnered just a 35.9 QBR, throwing for 3,046 yards, 12 TD’s, 21 INT’s, 4 fumbles and 6 rushing TD’s. The latter indicates that Smith has potential as a dual threat and he showed promise in his last four starts, boasting a solid 83 QBR.
However, fans didn’t see anything to confirm that Geno is a lock to be New York’s starter this season. And Ryan confirmed that Smith isn’t guaranteed of anything during a recent press conference. “There is competition, no doubt,” Ryan said. “You know I said from day one that I think Geno’s gonna be hard to beat out…and I’ve said that from day one. But I also said that Mike’s gonna have an opportunity to compete and he definitely will.”
Smoke and Mirrors
While Ryan’s words express that there is a competition going on, we should be more inclined to believe Vick. This is a guy who was in a dogfight last year for the starting quarterback role in Philadelphia. Vick ultimately beat out Nick Foles in the offseason to become the starter. However, a hamstring injury sidelined him and gave Foles an opportunity to shine. He ran with this opportunity too, guiding Philly from a rough start to the playoffs.
Vick never once said that he thought Foles would be the starter during the 2013 training camp. But with the Jets, he seems much more confident that Smith is going to be the starting signal caller while he serves as a backup and helps his friend improve.
Friends don’t let Friends play Bad
While we choose to believe Vick’s words, there’s no guarantee that this is the way things will play out on the field. Despite being 33, Vick is still one of the league’s fastest quarterbacks. Plus, he knows OC Marty Mornhinweg’s system very well since the two spent four years together in Philly.
The immediate advantage of this is that Vick can use his knowledge and understanding of Mornhinweg’s system to help out Smith. However, if the latter continues to struggle, then Vick will no doubt be called upon to take the reigns. The 12-year veteran showed that he still has what it takes to start, posting 1,215 passing yards, 5 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 306 rushing yards and 2 rushing TD’s in a limited season.
Also don’t forget that another non-playoff year could cost Ryan his job. So he won’t hesitate to do what’s best for the Jets from a winning standpoint if they are struggling.