Handicapping the Jets QB Battle: Michael Vick Has To Get The Nod, Right?

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Michael Vick

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

All the reports out of New York Jets camp is that there will be a “fair” quarterback competition between Michael Vick and Geno Smith. That’s not the case, and that’s baloney.

After Vick was signed back in March, I wrote about how his presence sets the tone for yet another Jets quarterback blunder. Just when we thought the Jets had finally gotten past the Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow debacles that plagued us for the past three years, they are rewriting the script, just changing the main characters.

Smith earned the nod last year over the injured Sanchez and a popular backup in Matt Simms. But like most rookies, with the exceptions of the Russell Wilsons and the Andrew Lucks and the Robert Griffins, Smith struggled.

Instead of making a move to inflate his confidence, the Jets brought in the top free-agent quarterback available in Vick, who may be on the downside of his career, but at least has proven that — when healthy — can be among the most effective NFL starters. And no matter what coach Rex Ryan, general manager John Idzik, or newly signed Chris Johnson say about the competition at the position, it’s Vick’s job to win and Smith’s to lose.

Smith still remains confident he can beat out Vick this summer, telling the New York Daily News Monday that his second year in the system is going to not only benefit himself as a quarterback, but the entire offense.

“With the experience I’ve gained,” Smith said, “I feel like I’m more than capable of being the starter.”

That’s nice and all, but it doesn’t mean anything.

If Idzik wanted a veteran presence to mentor Smith, it would not have been Vick, who should still have confidence in himself as a starting-caliber player. I don’t think Vick would have settled on the Jets if he wasn’t very, very confident he was going to be under center when Week 1 rolls around.

Ryan is always under the belief Gang Green is in Super Bowl contention, and in truth, that’s a pretty awesome outlook for a head coach to have, especially when he runs a team with so many holes and question marks as the Jets have. And deep down, Ryan knows that if he really wants to stand behind that sentiment, he has to make Vick “his guy.”

After the signing, Sports Illustrated reported the Jets believe Vick gives them the best chance to win, at least in 2014.

The Jets feel that Vick gives them a better chance to win now. Athletically, he’s not as explosive as he was in his MVP-caliber 2010 season with the Eagles, but he’s still a huge threat. But Vick isn’t as big as Smith, and while a more accurate passer than Smith at this point, he remains scattershot. Still, having played for Mornhinweg in Philly, Vick has a sharper understanding of the West Coast-oriented system that New York wants to run. That makes Vick a less stressful option to a stressed leadership staff.

And selfishly, if Ryan wants to remain the head coach, he’s going to do put Vick out there because he gives the team the best chance to win games. Being able to “win now” is all that matters when it comes to NFL coaching jobs.

While Vick should be considered the favorite to win the job — barring some kind of amazing training camp effort from Smith — the Jets just need to hope this doesn’t destroy Smith’s confidence in the post-Vick era or at least doesn’t irritate the second-year quarterback to demand out of New York.

That’s the worst-case scenario: Smith angry about losing his job, then asking for a ticket out of town. And if and when Vick wins the battle, the possibility of such an instance happening is definitely not out of the realm of possibility.

All of our eyes will again be glued to Jets offseason activities to monitor how this quarterback competition goes down. The script for this disaster has yet to get started, but we can already see how it plays out.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.