It’s a lose-lose situation for Geno Smith. Either the Jets have little confidence in him as the quarterback of the future, or they do still think he’s their guy and mistakenly just brought in a back-up quarterback who will be more of a threat than a mentor.
If the Jets turn this summer into a true open competition between Geno Smith and Michael Vick for the starting job, it’s hard to imagine Geno winning. At the moment, Vick is the better quarterback, and he gives the Jets a better chance to win in 2014.
Generally, you don’t bring in a quarterback like Vick when you have a young franchise QB. You certainly don’t hold an open competition that your young quarterback has a good chance of losing. So if the Jets actually do think Geno Smith is their future, they have a weird way of showing it.
One thought is that the Jets want Geno to be here for years to come, but they think he can benefit from watching Vick and learning from him for a year or two. Truthfully, it sometimes (but still rarely) is a good thing to be benched. Sometimes it’s helpful for a quarterback to take a step back and watch someone else from the sidelines. One of the anxieties of playing the position is being benched in the first place. So once you’ve actually had that experience, it can help to alleviate that anxiety. It worked for Donovan McNabb with the Eagles in 2008, for instance.
But Geno isn’t a veteran quarterback, rich in experience and in need of seeing the game from a different perspective so he can reset his quarterbacking brain. He’s a young and raw quarterback, still in need of NFL game experience. He needs to refine his skills. He needs reps with the 1st team in practice. He needs to develop chemistry with his receivers.
Additionally, the idea of Vick as a mentor is a strange concept. Michael Vick isn’t exactly a quarterback from which Geno can learn a whole lot. Vick has always played by a different set of rules because of his extraordinary athletic skills. He has never been a quarterback who sits in the pocket and reads through his progressions. On tape it’s clear that Vick does not have great coverage recognition skills. He doesn’t run out of bounds and regularly puts his body in harm’s way. He’s only played in all 16 games in a season once in his career. His is a style of play no young quarterback should try to emulate.
It’s not like the Jets brought in an old, sage quarterback who can actually act as a mentor to Geno. They didn’t bring in a quarterback who really understands all the intricacies of playing the position and can use that to teach Geno. No, they brought in a quarterback with a unique set of skills that few, if any, can relate to on the field. They brought in a quarterback that can still play. They brought in a threat to Geno Smith.
Even if Geno keeps the job out of training camp, he’ll continually be looking over his shoulder. Fans and the media will call for Vick to play at the first signs of trouble (and the Jets have a history of being overly reactive to this type of noise). That’s no way to let your young quarterback develop. A young QB needs to be able to fail. He needs to play on the edge, willing to take calculated risks and pull the trigger on stick throws into tight windows, not afraid that he’ll be benched if he makes a mistake.
You can almost guarantee that even if Geno wins the job there will be constant calls throughout the season to use Vick for a series here and there, or maybe in the red zone, or maybe when the offense has struggled for a few series. These are all areas in which Geno needs to be given the opportunity to develop if he is, in fact, the quarterback of the future for the Jets.
That’s the big question, though; do the Jets view Geno as their future? The Vick signing would indicate that they don’t, or at very least, that they have a convoluted view on developing quarterbacks.
Yet if the Jets have already made up their minds that Geno is not their guy, signing Vick isn’t such a bad move. After all, right now, he is an upgrade at the quarterback position.
Geno’s situation actually provides a good argument for why a quarterback taken early in the draft should play right away. It’s important to know what you have as an organization as soon as possible so you can make an informed decision and head in a different direction if necessary.
It would have been nice to see the Jets commit to Geno for another 16 games now that they’ve added a decent receiver in Eric Decker. Smith has the raw tools to be a successful quarterback. He also isn’t costing the Jets very much money. In fact, he’s costing them very little. So adding pieces to help him instead of adding a piece to replace him might have been the wiser move.
Whatever the Jets’ reasons are, there is no doubt that Michael Vick is in New York to compete for the starting job. And the Jets, once again, seem to be approaching the position with a short-term mindset.