On Geno Smith and the QB competition

Corey Griffin, TheJetsBlog.com

Let’s get one thing out of the way: There’s no such thing as a fair quarterback competition. Not in the NFL, not in college, not even in high school.

The Seahawks may not have expected Russell Wilson to beat out Matt Flynn, but they wanted the third-round pick to win out over the backup-turned-maybe-starter. He was cheaper, just as talented and, more importantly, he was Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s “guy.”

Never underestimate the “our guy” factor in professional sports. Besides being a clichéd buzz word, it’s a real thing. General managers and coaches want their hand-picked players to succeed. While Flynn and Wilson were both tabbed by Seattle’s braintrust to “compete” (another important buzz word we’ll get to), it looks a lot better in the public eye and on the salary cap when that guy is the one you drafted 75th overall.

It is from this idea that we revisit the Mark Sanchez vs. Geno Smith battle from last summer and look toward this year’s “competition” between Smith and Michael Vick.

Despite being the better player last summer, Sanchez was fighting a losing battle. There were too many ghosts in his shadow and too many dollar signs in his future for No. 6 to ever have a real shot at starting the majority of the 2013 season. Combine that with a new GM, who drafted his own flawed-but-talented signal caller in the second round, and you have the most see-through “competition” since Sanchez beat out Kellen Clemens in 2009.

It was an ironic twist in Sanchez’s brief NFL career. Four years prior, all Sanchez had to do was show up and stay healthy and the job was his. While Smith limped through training camp and the preseason – literally and figuratively – Sanchez at least appeared competent running Marty Mornhinweg’s offense. If he had stayed healthy, he may even have “won” the job in the eyes of the pundits. But Idzik and the Jets were careful to keep the narrative on the competition and not on who was leading or trailing. This wasn’t about Sanchez having a shot; it was about making it look like he did. Geno was always going to be the starter, but they couldn’t hand it to him – not with all the pre- and post-draft skepticism.

Mark Sanchez was the fall guy, the Verbal Kint to Geno Smith’s Keyser Soze. And John Idzik kept spooning the word competition into the minds and ears of Jets fans like it was written on the bottom of a coffee mug.

In a neutral world, Sanchez probably should’ve started, much like Clemens should’ve started in 2009.

But the NFL isn’t neutral. There are power struggles and egos and multi-million-dollar contracts that are dropped at the same time a player’s name slips to No. 2 on the depth chart. Geno was Idzik’s guy and, just as importantly, he was the choice of the fans, who had mostly moved on from the idea of Mark Sanchez taking another meaningful snap in New York. So much so that they seemed delighted by the prospect of Sanchez’s shoulder being so hurt he couldn’t pretend to be a threat to Geno’s status.

Now, Sanchez is 90 miles down the Jersey Turnpike and Mike Vick is the man meant to “compete” with Geno. The differences between Vick and Sanchez are numerous, one of which being that Vick is a better quarterback who last August appeared on track for a renaissance season under Chip Kelly. However, in this case, Vick will play the role Sanchez knows all too well. Like Sanchez and Clemens before him, Vick is a show pony.

Vick will be trotted out for John Q. Jets Fan and Idzik and Rex will tell you they’re there to “compete.” The best quarterback will win, they say. But this is Geno’s job. Just ask his offensive coordinator.

Unless the last four weeks of the 2013 season were simply a blip on the radar and Smith is truly abhorrent this summer, Vick will spend 2014 as a mentor and one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL. He’ll be a sounding board and an in-case-of-emergency-break-glass insurance policy.

The one thing Michael Vick won’t be this summer is on even standing with Geno Smith. Not in today’s NFL with slotted rookie deals and the shiny promise of a young, charismatic quarterback coming off an improved finish to his rookie season.

It’s the same story all over again.


Corey works for NBCSports.com as an editor and can be reached at @cgriffin415 on Twitter or by email at thejetsblogpodcast@gmail.com.




360 comments
bob
bob

Hey!..... Wait Doh minute....did you steal my post...LOL

j3tsfan29
j3tsfan29

Let's be real, Vick is not the better qb of the two. Only thing Vick has on geno is experience.

Hoz
Hoz

With the 18 pick in the 2014 NFL draft the NY Jets select Ha Ha Clinton- Dix, Idzik will shock the world..

Hazard2012
Hazard2012

Think Idzik will go either WR or CB in the first round, depending on who's there and how they rate on his board.    Evans, Cooks & Beckham, or Dennard or Gilbert the likely candidates.   


Suspect he would pass on Ebron and wait instead on ASJ, Amaro or Niklas in the second.   Maybe Dix and Pryor, if they're there, but I can't really see them going there, and despite how much Rex would love a Mosley or Shazier they probably rightly feel they can get their LB's later.    


The real sleepers in the first round (for Jets) could be the OL...certainly Robinson or Matthews, if by miracle they fall, but also Su'a Filo, maybe Lewan if Idzik gets past the character issues, and Martin.   Rex likes G & P, has the horses in the backfield, and may want to reduce QB touches --- regardless who the QB is --- and all that requires an upgrade up front.    



idothis2
idothis2

i really wish that 4th round comp pick was a 3rd

j_spikett
j_spikett

i don't like smith. would like to see the jets draft a QB in the 3rd or 4th rounds. i think vick will end up as starter this year. would like to see jets trade down in the first 2 rounds. these players are a crap shoot so quantity rules over higher picks. mr T ruined the team by trading up every year.

WW85
WW85

NFLN right now analyst saying Cooks the #1 route runner in the draft, tough, physical. But small

a57se
a57se

I was going through NFP's Big Board and noticed there are:

67 players with 1st/2nd round grades for 64 slots

84 players with 3rd/4th round grade for 76 slots

134 players with 5th-7th round grades for 116 slots

You have 285 draftable players and there are 256 draft spots......that is a pretty deep class

marcus81
marcus81

Vick should only push Geno to improve and learn, hopefully Geno is the starter cause if Vick wins the starting job, it might mean Jets might have to start over with another rookie  QB to be the future of the team, I think Geno can be much better with better talent around him, hopefully he doesn't get in the habit of turning the ball over like Sanchez

Brendan
Brendan

@Hanknaples  Some random poll NFL.com did to fill in the extra time before the draft is a notch (what's a knotch?) in someone's belt? 

Pete 57
Pete 57

Will it help him win any games this year?

marcus81
marcus81

@idothis2 we all do, but gotta be happy Jets got compensation for Mevis, can't wait for Ivory and Johnson to run him over

Pat d
Pat d

Saw that too. Like Cooks but he is not as good a route runner as Lee.

Pat d
Pat d

And about 25 top 10 players

Pat d
Pat d

Taking away reps with the #1s will not help Geno improve. I think Geno will be the starter. If he stinks then bring in Vick.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@marcus81 There's no disgrace getting beaten out by Vick and with his 2nd round deal, he's still good value for a back up.  Foles got beaten out by Vick, even though he had been starting, and had a great season.  Nothing wrong with Geno continuing to learn the WCO.

j_spikett
j_spikett

@Disgruntled Jets Fan @j_spikett  the more picks you have the better the chance you are going to find players that help you. you will find every year there are a lot of players picked in the middle rounds that are better pros than the ones picked in the first two rounds. you just don't know with the NFL draft. trade down as often as you can.

Pat d
Pat d

About 6 that could be #1s in other years

a57se
a57se

@Pat d  

They have 8 elite players.........NONE of the QB's.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Pat d Montana improved sitting behind Steve DeBerg, Steve Young improved sitting behind Montana, Rodgers improved sitting behind Favre, Flynn improved sitting behind Rodgers...the WCO is a system offense with passes that aren't all that difficult.  There might be some benefit to sitting and watching.  Back in the day, it seemed like every QB that stepped in for the 49ers lit it up.

harvlis
harvlis

@Pat d If Geno learns under Vick, they can bring him along slowly.  If they force him into action and he starts throwing the ball away, again, he could be done.  Although, recently, there have been QB's that play right out of college, plenty of great QB's sat the bench for awhile and learned their craft.

Cordell C
Cordell C

He one one thought he would be good sometimes is not the physical skills but the will and heart to refuse to fail can't measure that

Pat d
Pat d

The fact is the earlier the round the more likely you will hit. There are exceptions but you can't base your draft on the chance of hitting on the exception. 12 picks should be more than enough.

j_spikett
j_spikett

@DarrolRayFanClub @j_spikett  he traded away more than half his picks. look at all the players he lost out on. they had the least amount of picks in the draft every year and the least amount of overall talent. thats why he was shown the door. if it wasn't for ryan they would have been even worse. the hundreds of trades i was talking about were not with him i was talking about all the teams that trade up. very few of them work out. every once in a while you catch lighting in a bottle like with revise but the vast majority are failures.

j_spikett
j_spikett

@DarrolRayFanClub @j_spikett @Disgruntled Jets Fan  you are talking one trade how about all of the hundreds that didn't work out? every other time mr t moved up he didn't get anything of value worth trading for

WW85
WW85

@Hazard2012 I think probably CB unless someone like Mosley falls. It's not as deep at Cb as WR, but even if it was, I think Idzik is not going WR.  It's just a probability & nothing more than that. I think we will pick Roby unless we trade back.

juunit
juunit

@WW85 @juunit 

We've brought in a lot of the WRs who figure to be gone by 49. It may not end up being the pick at 18, but Idzik definitely seems to be at least thinking it. 

WW85
WW85

@juunit  I think Idzik will not go WR in rd 1.  I really hope I'm wrong. I think he is from the "WR is a dime a dozen position & dont waste a #1 pick " school of thought. I think we go CB/OL maybe LB in rd 1.

juunit
juunit

@WW85

I wouldn't be so sure. We were connected to both Austin and Jackson plus brought in Dri Archer. Idzik seems to like small fast guys.

WW85
WW85

@juunit In general. if Cooks was 6ft, he'd easily be the #1 WR in this draft even above Watkins. I prefer big, strong WRs myself. But it's hard for me to overlook this guy's talent. Put the ball in his hands & he is a threat. I'd be thrilled if the NYJ take him, but I dont think it's Idzik's style.

juunit
juunit

@WW85 @juunit 

Yeah, it's last year. It's kinda funny how inconsistent college football statistics are. Football Outsiders hasn't done that same list this year. It is interesting to note how many of the top guys from this year are completely missing from that list though.

But I pointed it out to you because of Cooks' nearly 75% catch rate with 13.5 yards per target. Point is, that's extremely good. 

Since most conversation seems to be Cooks vs. Beckham, it's interesting to note that Cooks is near the very top and Beckham is nowhere to be found. Granted, this is based on last year. But, it's still relevant. 


Interesting to see Seferian-Jenkins make the list too. Far as I know, he's the only TE on there.

Pat d
Pat d

Anyone that watches PAC 12 football knows Lee is a better route runner

WW85
WW85

@Disgruntled Jets Fan USC WR whose production fell apart without Matt Barkley. High drop rate, slender build, 4.52.  Maybe he will be great one day, but I'll take my chances with Cooks/OBJ if we are going small/fast.

a57se
a57se

@Marvel @a57se 

Sure does make it easier to win your division year after year after year......

Marvel
Marvel

@a57se

 Don't exactly need an elite QB to win... it helps tho

harvlis
harvlis

@DarrolRayFanClub @SackDance99@Pat d Part of getting better, while sitting behind a starter, is getting reps without the pressure of a game situation, so that you can perfect your game.  In addition, watching the starter perform, and seeing how a solid pro handles adversity is a learning experience.  Throwing players to the wolves might end up with a positive outcome but, it is risky and comes with serious growing pains.   

Pat d
Pat d

DarrolRay

Agree, you don't improve sitting on the bench. Getting reps with the #1s will help you improve.

boomer
boomer

@Pat d  I think if you read up on MMs WCO you will find that a bomb is probably the least thrown pass in his arsenal.  His WCO (like most) is built on short passes, slants, outs, etc., that rely on timing and accuracy to open up the field for longer throws.


Plus receivers have options on what route to run based on the defense they are facing.  The QB has to be able to read the same defense and know what route the receiver is going to run.


It's a pretty complicated offense and definitely takes some time to master, particularly for the QB.

Pat d
Pat d

WCO passes aren't that difficult. Not so sure about that. Throwing a bomb isn't the most difficult pass to make.

harvlis
harvlis

@Pat d How do they bolt, if they are under contract? 

Pete 57
Pete 57

You seem to have ignored the earlier comment about a player being under contract. Why would a player bolt if he sat for a year and then started in year 2? How would he bolt if he has 2 more years and a team option for a fifth year left on his contract?

Pat d
Pat d

You don't really learn much sitting on the bench. If you don 't think players bolt more now you must be a youg fan.

harvlis
harvlis

@Pat d Aaron Rogers sat behind Favre.  He did okay.  The QB's behind Vick have done quite well.  When a young QB watches how a solid veteran goes about running an offense and picking apart a defense, there is a great deal that he learns.  If Geno outplays Vick, I have no problem with him starting but, if Vick looks better, I would be sick if they started Geno because he was an Idzik draft pick.  I want a quality offense to go along with a killer defense.   

boomer
boomer

@Pat d  How do you bolt when you are under contract?  They don't have to sit for 5 years but nothing wrong with sitting for a year or two and learning the game.

Pat d
Pat d

The money was one reason. But now players will bolt where in the past that didn't happen like it does now.

Pete 57
Pete 57

I think the days of QB's sitting in the beginning will return. The main reason it changed was because of the money. Now that rookie salaries are much more controlled teams will be willing to let guys sit for at least a year.

Pat d
Pat d

The days of QBs sitting and learning on the on the job, for the most part, is history. There are many reasons for this. But bringing up Montana isn't relevant today.

What makes you think Vick will be a good mentor. I don't see it.