By Steve Silverman
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The Jets seemingly have a good, old-fashioned quarterback controversy on their hands with the addition of Michael Vick to the roster.
While quarterback duels are usually not the best way to promote a cohesive team during the season, it makes sense as far as the Jets are concerned. Geno Smith is a second-year quarterback with some degree of talent, but there are too many questions about his game for general manager John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan to have confidence that he can get the job done in 2014.
The biggest issue for Smith is his decision-making. When you play quarterback in the NFL, you have to know that you have to get rid of the ball quickly or the pass-rush will bring the pain.
Smith played last season as if he knew the hammer was about to drop on him, and the longer he held the ball, the more likely he was to panic.
In an era when rookie quarterbacks are expected to produce, Smith was not good. He ranked 37th in the NFL and he had a 66.5 passer rating. While those numbers improved in December, it’s quite a stretch to believe that Smith has turned the corner and will develop into a consistent quarterback this year.
Vick is a middle-of-the-pack kind of quarterback with the athletic ability to avoid the rush and make some plays with his feet. His arm strength has never been questioned and he will make some picture-perfect passes. However, his consistency and his ability to figure out where the pass-rush is coming from have been consistent problems since he came back from his suspension in 2009.
Getting rid of Mark Sanchez and bringing in Vick is certainly a move that made sense for the Jets. Too many things had gone wrong for the Jets with Sanchez behind center in recent years. Yes, the Jets went to two consecutive AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010 with Sanchez at quarterback, but those teams were dominated by their defense, and the former USC star made limited contributions.
Sanchez had a 13-18 TD-interception ratio in 2012 to go with a 66.9 passer rating and a notorious butt fumble before missing all of last season with a torn labrum in his passing arm.
The Eagles decided they had no use for Vick as Nick Foles’ backup, but they could use Sanchez in that position.
This is clearly a decision that came from the fertile mind of head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly considers himself an offensive innovator and perhaps the premier quarterback guru in the league. He is quite satisfied with the way the Eagles improved last season and became a playoff team in his first season as head coach. The biggest reason for that was the shocking play of Foles, who had a 27-2 TD-interception ratio, a 119.2 passer rating and completed 64.0 percent of his passes.
Apparently, one miraculous quarterback performance is not enough for Kelly. He apparently thinks he can resurrect Sanchez and turn him into a winning quarterback in case Foles gets hurt and the Eagles have to turn to their backup.
It’s one thing to have confidence in yourself as an offensive game planner and quarterback guru, but it’s quite another to defy all convention and take a player who had fallen and couldn’t get up.
The move is a great one for Sanchez. Ryan simply couldn’t help him with any aspect of quarterback play, while Kelly knows as much as anyone. Sanchez can feel good that a coach he had competed against in college believes in him.
But that was a long time ago. Sanchez finished his college career at USC in 2008 and he is just another body at this point his career. He has had some moments to be proud of in his NFL career, but they were all fleeting. He has never demonstrated consistency while getting paid to play.
Kelly should understand that and he should have moved in a different direction. However, his ego is too monumental. He believes he can take an also-ran and turn him into a winning quarterback.
The Jets know those days have passed for Sanchez. The Eagles will learn that lesson the hard way if they are forced to turn to him at any point this season.
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