Michael Vick still battling to be Jets starting quarterback

By Brian McMahon,
It appears the Jets want Geno Smith to win the starting job, but Vick is going to put up a fight.

Michael Vick is going to try and win the starting quarterback position for the New York Jets over Geno Smith. Despite the Jets giving Smith 70-75 percent of the first team snaps during minicamp, Vick is not ready to accept being the backup.

When Vick signed with the Jets in March for a one-year, $5 million contract, he expected to have a chance to beat out Smith for the starting job. However, it appears that the Jets would rather Smith win the job, and have Vick as a reliable backup.

Smith is coming off a rookie season where he certainly had his fair share of struggles, but looked good in the homestretch of the season, leading the Jets to a 3-1 finish. Vick is coming to the Jets after having lost his starting job with the Philadelphia Eagles to Nick Foles. Vick was injured in week 10, and after Foles filled in admirably for a few games, he was named the starter for the rest of the season.

"I think you let this competition play out," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan when asked about the battle for starting quarterback. Ever since general manager John Idzik took over the team in 2013, the Jets have preached competition among players for starting positions and playing time.

While that may hold true for other positions, notably the contest for the number two wide receiver, there is seemingly a quasi-competition for quarterback. For some time Vick has hinted that the starting role is Smith’s to lose, and not up for grabs.

"I still feel like, if the opportunity comes, I can help this football team win,” said Vick according to NJ.com.

Vick, a four-time Pro Bowler, could easily, and some would argue fairly, make a much bigger stink about not being giving a fair shot to be the starter. After all, Smith did not show enough last season to be handed a starting role for a second year in a row, as he threw 12 touchdowns compared to 21 interceptions on the year.

However, since Vick has returned to the NFL from serving time in prison for his memorable dog fighting scandal, he has always said the right things. When his teammate on the Eagles, Riley Cooper, was recorded making racist remarks at a country concert last year, he remained supportive of him, notes USA Today.

Vick’s professionalism may payoff. If Smith struggles like he did for stretches last season, Ryan will almost have to give the proven veteran a chance. Last season the Jets backup was an inexperienced Matt Sims, so it made sense for the Jets to allow Smith to play through the tough times. That’s not the case with Vick, who will eagerly be awaiting a chance to get on the field.

There is an obvious problem if Vick were to win the starting role, his history of injuries. Vick hasn’t played an entire season since 2006, his last year in the league before serving 23 months in jail. The Jets risk stunting the development of Smith by giving Vick the starting job, who could just end up getting hurt midway through the season. The offense would then have to get used to playing with Smith again, on the fly.

While no player is immune to injuries, Smith looked like a pretty heady player much of last year, being able to avoid some big hits. Smith played in all 16 games last season, something Vick has only done once in his 11-year career.

This may be the first time this has been said about the Jets, but they are handling their quarterback situation properly. They should want Smith to win the starting job, as they hope to build around him for years to come. But, if he plays exceptionally bad, they have a proven backup who will be coming in with plenty of confidence. Now, if they can only figure out who their quarterback will be passing the ball to.

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