Michael Vick may not be slated as the New York Jets’ starting quarterback, but no Jets offseason would be complete without a quarterback controversy, and this time around is no exception. Vick, who is currently backing up second-year quarterback Geno Smith, should have a very real shot at winning the starting job by the time the regular season rolls around, especially if Smith has a couple rough showings during preseason action.
It may help that Vick is clearly still hungry to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. “It’s hard not to [be a starting quarterback],” Vick told Kimberly Jones of NFL.com.
“I still feel like I have a couple years left. I still move pretty good, obviously the quarterback position is played from a mental standpoint, so I try to keep that in perspective so if I keep doing that then I think things will work out for me.”
The Jets are operating under very unique circumstances heading into the 2014 season. Smith was pretty awful at times in his first year at the pro level, throwing 21 interceptions to just 12 touchdowns. That level of performance nearly resulted in head coach Rex Ryan’s dismissal, but owner Woody Johnson stuck by his coach for at least another year.
Ryan now has to find a fine balance. He needs Smith to develop for the future. After all, Smith is the Jets’ quarterback of tomorrow, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the quarterback of today. Ryan knows that he enters the 2014 season on the hot seat and high expectations in New York. Because of that, it’s likely that he’ll be starting whichever quarterback gives the Jets a greater chance to win now rather than banking on developing Smith for the future.
To this point, the only message out of the Jets has been that Smith is the starter, and Vick is there as a competent backup and mentor to Smith. We see coaches stick with their man all the time. Just a year ago, the Jets were sending the same message with Smith backing up Mark Sanchez, but that all fell apart when Sanchez was injured in preseason action. Even if Sanchez could have stayed healthy, it’s hard to imagine him leading the Jets from start to finish in 2013.
For now, Smith is and will remain Ryan’s man. If losses start to pile up early in the season, Ryan will probably be quick to bench his young quarterback in favor of Vick, who should be able to provide some veteran stability on one of the worst offensive units in the league. Sure, Vick is on the outside looking in right now, but he was brought in specifically because he has the skillset to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and that may be exactly what the Jets need before their latest quarterback controversy has played out.