Michael Vick

Fan OpEd: Dissecting MMQB Andy Benoit’s criticism of the New York Jets

Longtime reader Joe B. (AKA JDB)  wrote a Fan OpEd in response to Andy Benoit’s MMQB article in which he took the Jets to task for signing Michael Vick.  Last year, Joe did the same of Peter King’s article on Darrelle Revis.  If you enjoyed this, please make sure to let JDB know in the comments or read the article on his fledgling Jets blog.

(FYI, I’ve made a few edits to JDB’s piece for our site.)

Well it’s that time of year again when national sports writers are forced to generate web content about football and yet there is very little to write about. What is one to do? Speculate. Writers masquerade as experts under the umbrella of a national website. Regrettably their lack of insight, petty guesswork and general half-assed approach tends to shine through like a lighthouse on pitch-black night.

Today’s target is MMQB’s Andy Benoit; who takes the Jets to task for their recent signing of Michael Vick and accuses the team of creating a phony quarterback competition.

As Benoit begins in his sub headline:

“All signs point to a faux QB competition and a decision-making group simply trying not to get fired.”

Benoit is entitled to his opinion, after all that’s what this piece is. Unfortunately Benoit has no facts to back up his opinion. Benoit questions:

“…Then why sign Vick for so much money? Teams generally don’t give $4 million to backups.”

Turns out with a simple visit to OverTheCap.com the highest paid backups in football do make around $4 million per year. Matt Moore of the Dolphins, $4 million (who makes more than starter Ryan Tannehill), Matt Hasselbeck of the Colts $3.625 million, Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Texans $3.625 million, Kyle Orton of the Cowboys $3.5 million, Chase Daniel of the Chiefs $3.33 million. That list doesn’t even include Matt Cassel or Chad Henne (who both make as much or more than Vick) because we don’t know if they plan to draft a quarterback in the first round of May’s NFL draft.

Strike one. So we’ve established that Benoit is one of the worst things you can be as a writer; lazy.

Benoit continues:

“The Jets would not even have looked into signing Vick if they didn’t harbor genuine discomfort about Smith. The question is, What’s driving that discomfort?”

That is one way of interpreting the signing of Vick. Geno Smith showed bright spots as well as some dreadful moments that resulted in his benching in favor of backup Matt Simms. Once behind center, Simms did not show enough in his spots to lead the team to victory when Smith imploded. The Jets felt they needed a stronger backup, a player with the ability to salvage a game. Vick fit that mold almost perfectly because of his familiarity with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

No problem, so far…

“But like a lot of rookies, he could not immediately take the next step, which is to process the play design in conjunction with reading the defense. So he’d fall into valleys of struggles, evidenced most plainly by his barrages of turnovers (25 on the season)…

“Ryan has lauded the 23-year-old’s progress as a rookie, but in reality, Ryan and Mornhinweg took things off Smith’s plate as last season wore on. The Jets became more of a run-based offense, relying less on their deep-dropping, progression-read passes.”

In other words, Ryan and Mornhinweg did what smart coaches do; adapt to the situation they are confronted with and put the team in the best position to win.  In simplifying matters for Smith, the team won their last three of four games following their three game skid in November.  The Jets coaching staff realized their quarterback was struggling with what they were asking him to do and adjusted their offense to Smith’s strengths. In most cases coaches are lauded for making adjustments and putting their team in a position to win, but not the Jets.

“And then there’s the possibility that the Vick signing is a product of the coaches and front office strengthening their own illusion of job security. Woody Johnson has evolved into a meddling owner (his prerogative). That’s the biggest reason why handfuls of candidates turned down the Jets GM job before Idzik was finally hired. In January, Ryan (and by extension, his coaching staff) got a new contract, but according to the New York Daily News, it is only guaranteed through 2015. Ryan is still a coach on thin ice.

Pure conjecture. Benoit’s entire conclusion is formed around the picture that has been painted about the organization from the outside. The entire paragraph is perception and the only fact was that Ryan’s contract is guaranteed through 2015. The biggest reason GMs were reported to have turned down the Jets position was actually the misconception that the team was in “cap hell”; a point that Bent and Jason of OTC proved repeatedly to be false.

The Jets have gone on record as saying they plan to build their team through the draft, as they are tied with the Rams for having a league-high 12 draft picks, in the 2014 NFL Draft. If they were in win-now job saving mode they would have signed every free agent available like the Oakland Raiders did. At the least Ryan’s extension demonstrates is that the team is invested in their coach and his staff for two seasons. That would tend to follow what the team has said; building this team is going to take time.

Strike two. Choosing to ignore facts and supporting an argument based on misinformation, pretty sloppy Benoit.

Finally Benoit exposes himself as a hack.

“Not surprisingly, the open market left Vick unsigned for a week and a half. In contrast, it took only 24 hours for Josh McCown, the other unsigned mid-30s quarterback who straddles the line between backup and starter, to get a two-year deal with Tampa Bay…

“Still, this change illuminates alarming problems in the Jets organization. Either the front office and coaches believe they missed badly on their 2013 early second-round pick, or they feel compelled to go with a safer but inconsistent veteran who offers no long-term dividends because owner Woody Johnson can’t see past January 2015.”

Josh McCown is a solid comparison until you look at the facts (yet again). New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith is much more familiar with McCown as he was signed by the Bears back in 2011 when Smith was then the head coach of Chicago. McCown’s 2013 statistics came as an aberration thanks to a Marc Trestman offense and one of the NFL’s most lethal groups of passing catching receivers, tight ends and running backs.

As most of us came to find out Mike Vick was holding out hope that he would be signed as a starting quarterback this season. After about a week and a half, the market dried up and the only positions left were backup spots. After Vick signed, he went on record as saying “as of right now, Geno’s the starting quarterback of this football team.” Since Idzik arrived at One Jets Drive, the team’s mantra has been about competition, at every position. The team was widely criticized for their nurturing of former quarterback Mark Sanchez, with claims that they constantly coddled him. The team is now taking a different approach and to no surprise they are being criticized for it.

To Andy Benoit the Jets are already throwing in the towel on Geno Smith, a player who had some serious rough spots but finished the season showing promise. They are providing competition to a second round draft pick, a round that draft experts tell us “you don’t have to be married to.” If anything, the signing of Vick means one person’s job is in jeopardy: Geno Smith. The team hasn’t invested that much in Smith and he has to prove he is the guy this season. If not, the team will simply draft a new quarterback in 2015.

Strike three Benoit. You’re out.




242 comments
jdb4
jdb4

Hey, thank you everyone for the kind words and the compliments.  I appreciate it and glad that you enjoyed it.

feetran123
feetran123

@Brian_Bassett great jobMost reporters are liberal and Woody is not, so they take shots at him through the team, not caring who they step on

David Aron
David Aron

i remember reading and being upset with benoit's article. thanks jdb for setting the record straight.

david from haifa

harold
harold

@57se

You really should be ashamed of yourself putting a like on that @brian foolishness.

SackDance99
SackDance99

One of the half-truth's in Benoit's article is about how the game plans were simplified for Geno down the stretch.  "Simplified" in this context for a kid that was in the shotgun in college and passed the majority of the time is different from how the offense was "simplified" for Sanchez.  During Geno's 3-game slide, Marty M. brought in a lot of different receivers and personnel groups, including Cribbs in the Wildcat.  The goal wasn't to allow Geno to run the offense, the more "complex" offense took the ball out of his hands.  When the offense was "simplified" the personnel groups were cut down and Geno was more in control and passed more often.  In short, Rex and Marty got away from what they were doing earlier in the season and returned to that late.


Benoit didn't watch the Jets and likely doesn't know much about football.  Peyton Manning may run the simplest offense in the NFL with mostly the same personnel groupings and pattern trees.  It's just that he adjusts to defenses so well that even though the defense has seen the same patterns over and over, they just can't anticipate the adjustments.  Geno isn't Peyton Manning, but the WCO is a structured offense that works best with repetition from the same basic personnel.  Look at the Bears.  Nothing complex in that offense, just great athletes and execution.  Ditto virtually every successful WCO.


Jets just didn't have the personnel, because of injuries, suspensions, lack of talent, etc., to run the WCO the way it's supposed to run.  The last 4 games, Marty and Rex just ran the WCO with the personnel they had, got lucky with improved health, and Geno's execution was sharper.  Let's hope the offense is even simpler in 2014 because that will mean the personnel running it is better and the execution by the offense will improve.

a57se
a57se

So did SD call the Ford signing as well?

Bent
Bent moderator

@jdb4  ESPECIALLY YOU, BRIAN!

Bent
Bent moderator

@SackDance99


"Benoit didn't watch the Jets and likely doesn't know much about football."


This is actually unfair.  He's done detailed film study on the Jets in the past that has been some of the best stuff out there.


Now, is he taking a short-cut based on a pre-conceived notion to make a point here?  Unquestionably and you're right to call him out on that.


You'll recall my article that dispelled the myth that the only reason Geno improved over those last four games was that they were in the shotgun more.  This reminds me of that.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se  No ... he's NOT John Idzik after all!


He did call Hawkins though and I have it on good authority the Jets were for realz interested in Hawk before that turned into a bidding war, so Coby was pretty much their plan B for that.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Bent @SackDance99I'd like to see some good analysis by Benoit because this opinion piece sucks.  The thesis that the Jets have lost faith in Geno or that Vick is definitely the starter glosses over the reasons why I always thought Vick would be signed: Marty M. brought the best out of Vick in Philly, Vick was universally praised as a good mentor for Foles and Geno needs to be pushed in camp by someone who knows how to execute MM's offense.  So, whether Vick starts or not, he was the perfect QB to sign because he fits everything you want from a vet.  And, the last time a vet was signed to back up the young starter, it worked out pretty well for the Jets.  I liked Glenn Foley, but Vinny T. was the right guy for the job.  Vinny's age?  35.  His record?  Spotty, with a ton of INTs and a losing record.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @SackDance99 

He didn't realize the only reason Geno improved the last four games was because he ran instead of throw massively late.

Bent
Bent moderator

@SackDance99 @Bent  


Thanks, but if I'm honest I would probably have been closer to him on the Mason signing (he had 10 straight years of 60+ catches entering 2011) and Schotty than the prevailing consensus.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Bent @SackDance99Meh.  Big miss on Mason and a bit over-exuberant about Schotty.  Also, by Sanchez's 3rd year, he still showed troubling inconsistency in the short-passing game...a main reason why he never sniffed 60% completions.  On your worst day, you're still exponentially better.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Bent @Brendan@a57seIt's not as good as TJB and is sort of a vanity project by Caparoso, but he does know a lot about football and this was a solid piece of analysis.  My only quibble is that Geno's step forward may have frozen the LBs because of his running ability, not just that Kerley was the no. 1 option.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan  He's a more informative follow than I am, that's for sure.

Brendan
Brendan

@Bent Joe is one of my favorite Jets-related twitter follows (present company and BB excluded, of course). 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan @a57se  


I am happy to endorse TOTJ as one of the best Jets blogs out there.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se It should, TOTJ is a good Jets blog. You are allowed to read other ones, Bent won't get made (promise). 


And your refusal extends to him reading defenses. Because in your mind a QB identifying coverage and realizing it's better to tuck and run into open space is not improving at reading a defense. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

He got better because he didn't throw the ball late as often because he took off and ran instead.

I fully acknowledge that. That doesn't make him a better QB per se, just less of an albatross.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I know you have this relentless refusal to acknowledge Geno actually got better when he played better, but he actually got better when he played better. Minimize however you want, the guy improved as an NFL QB. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se @SackDance99@BentA silly comparison.  QB and WR are very different animals and rookie WRs take time to develop.  I don't want to draft a WR and start him immediately.  Let him be a back up, see how to run the routes properly and, then, when the inevitable injuries occur, let the rookie WR start having more important reps.

Ford and Rice or Austin are all good WRs, but none of them can't get beaten out and Austin and Rice aren't the most durable guys and Kerley missed some time last season, too.  Jets need back ups at every WR position.

a57se
a57se

@SackDance99 @Bent@a57se  

That was your comment and my response was:

So you want Decker, Ford, Rice/Austin, Kerley, Nelson and Hill as the WR core.....then we don't have to draft one as there wouldn't be any room on the roster.

 That would be like needing a QB in 1983 and signing Cliff Stoudt and Scott Brunner then passing on Marino, Elway, Kelly etc.....

Bent
Bent moderator

@bobbyj  Yes, they announced he was signed today.

bobbyj
bobbyj

I like Ford, did we pick him up?

Brendan
Brendan

@__fense I asked, but like most direct questions I ask 57, he didn't bother answering. 

__fense
__fense

@a57se @__fense  Were you also being sarcastic when you said you were stoked just now, in this thread? I'm pretty good at understanding everyone but you.

a57se
a57se

@__fense @a57se 

Golly _fense, apparently you couldn't tell that that was a pretty sarcastic remark.

Brendan
Brendan

@__fense I'm pretty sure 57 was simply mocking the idea of liking a Jacoby Ford signing, rather than actually conveying his desire for the team to sign him. 


"WOWSERS!" is the new "ZOMG!" in 57 humor. 

__fense
__fense

@a57se @__fense  I quoting you directly from a post you made two weeks ago in the "Jets interested in WR Jacoby Ford" thread. You seem to have radically changed your opinion on him since then, and the only thing that's changed is now he's on the Jets.

__fense
__fense

a57se, March 17th (just over 2 weeks ago): "I am dying for the Jets to sign guys like this! WOWSER!"
a57se, April 1st: "I always called him Fumbles."

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se So put $20 on it and the loser pays a charitable donation to the Wounded Warriors Project. You do love talking up your predictions, why not have a little fun with it? 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

Nope, I don't wager on things like that.....Ford is a fumbler and all it will take is one or two of them and he'll be cut...this is my speculation.

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

Like I said earlier, I doubt he makes the roster the way it is right now.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Yes, and I'm sure you were not being sarcastic. Are you telling me, sarcasm free, that you are a fan of this move? 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I am shocked that you are already here crapping on a recent Jets acquisition. Shocked. Floored, even. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent  That's what everyone calls Jacoby Ford.