Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comOver the last few days, there’s been speculation about the Jets interest in Eagles QB Mike Vick. The topic was discussed at length on the NFL Network at the Combine set and is well worth watching.
Rex Ryan hinted through the media last offseason that he liked the idea of adding Mike Vick. Armed with 2013 rookie quarterback who got better as the year went on but who still had a long way to go, little chance at adding an impact quarterback through the 2014 NFL Draft? Free agency seems a likely method. Here’s some reasons why Mike Vick coming to New York might not be a bad thing.
Gotta have two — Aside from the Jets this season, Eagles coach Chip Kelly managed one of the most interesting quarterback situations in the league. When asked about bringing back Vick in 2014, Kelly said that in the NFL, you have to have two quarterbacks to win. When Vick was injured this year, it offered Foles the opportunity to play. When Aaron Rodgers was injured this past season, the Packers inability to field a legitimate backup nearly submarined their playoff hopes along with all chance at a serious January run. All of New England soiled themselves when Brady fell to the earth one time in August. With as much money as the Jets have available this year there’s no downside to deepening the second quarterback spot.
Veteran leadership included — If the Jets were able to add Vick, it means that they have no reason to continue to hold onto Mark Sanchez or bring back David Garrard. Neither player offers anything that the Jets want (or need) that Vick can’t better offer the team and Geno Smith in specific. For the cloud that shadowed Vick in recent years, it was Vick who mediated the Riley Cooper controversy thereby allowing Cooper to emerge as a playmaker for the Eagles in a year without Jeremy Maclin. As Charles Davis told his co-hosts on NFL Network, no one more than Vick can tell young players “don’t make the mistakes I did.”
The past heat between Vick and Mornhinweg is overblown — Last year Adam Schefter floated a report that Mike Vick wasn’t keen on reuniting with Marty Mornhinweg. That was last year. At the time, Vick had been marginalized by Mornhinweg as the S.S. Reid sunk into Delaware River. At the time, the Eagles were bringing in a new coach who reset the quarterback depth chart. His chances seemed better at starting in Philly than New York. We’d imagine that the longtime NFL starter wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of going back to work for the guy who helped push him to the side. The situation is totally different this year. Vick again went to the bench and knows that there is no regaining his job against Nick Foles. His time on the bench had more to do with injuries and diminishing skills than Marty Mornhinweg.
Familiar territory — There will likely be a number of teams who are interested in Vick and so he’ll have to consider his options carefully. Vick will in all likelihood look for a team that offers him the best chance to become the starter outright. But while coming to New York might offer no guarantees he would have to think he’s got an inside chance at starting due to his knowledge of the offense. Working with Marty Mornhinweg will provide familiarity and pull for the veteran. In addition, if the Jets make a strong play for Maclin then there’s even more known commodities for the quarterback.
No half measures – I am amenable to the idea of Geno Smith going into the season as the starting quarterback regardless of any competition. But if the Jets are toying with the idea of restructuring Mark Sanchez or bringing in Bears QB Josh McCown, I would prefer they sign a player who can provide a legitimate fight for the starting job. Of the trio of Vick, Sanchez and McCown? Vick seems is hands down the best threat to Smith’s de facto status as the starter. Of course I would like the guy who just started the team’s last 16 games to be the team’s franchise player and an elite talent in the league for the next 15 years … that’s just simple pragmatism. But what if he isn’t? Are the Jets in a better position to get better play from the quarterback spot by having Mark Sanchez sitting behind Smith signed for three million a year or Mike Vick making seven? Give me Vick and the four million dollar difference every time.
Let’s not worry too much about Geno’s fragile development prospects — Rex Ryan just got a contract extension, but the structure of the deal makes it plain that he is banking on himself and his team’s results in 2014. As the roster is currently constituted much of that comes down to Geno Smith’s response as a player in his second season. Putting Geno up against tomato cans like Sanchez or even McCown wouldn’t provide the right kind of competition to push Smith while simultaneously providing the talent off the bench should Rex need to pull the ripcord on Smith. In 2013 there was little reason to bench Smith because of the alternatives. On the defensive side of the ball, Rex has the horses to keep him competitive *IF* his quarterback can make a few plays and keep the mistakes to a minimum. Adding a player like Mike Vick could do more than provide those modest needs but cost will be money (which the Jets have plenty of) while knowing that your backup could end up seeing time in 3-4 games a year. Starting Vick come Week One doesn’t mean Geno won’t get a crack at the starting spot at some point based on Vick’s health the last few years. As far as what it does to Geno’s progress? Nick Foles didn’t seem to have too adverse an outcome for sitting a bit in 2013. If Geno is a good quarterback being benched for a time should be immaterial. Worrying about Geno’s psyche should be the least of Ryan’s many concerns in 2014. If Geno can’t win a camp competition and then as a result doesn’t respond well to sitting? Then is he even the guy that the team will be building their team around in five years anyway?