NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Call it Joe being Joe if you want, but Namath has his opinions on just about everything when it comes to the Jets.
Speaking to reporters at the Gridiron Gala event at the Waldorf Astoria on Tuesday night, Namath didn’t hold back when asked his opinion on whether incumbent Geno Smith or newcomer Michael Vick is the better option to start at quarterback.
“If Mike’s healthy, I think he’s the better player at this point,” said Namath, who didn’t make a prediction. “Now, Geno’s got some talent, no doubt. But we’ve already seen Michael and what he can do. Having some knowledge of Marty’s offense, I think that’s an advantage, too, for Michael to make the transition. It’s a matter of how sound he is.”
Smith’s rookie season had its up and downs, but finished on a high note as he helped the Jets win three of their final four games to end the season at a surprising 8-8. Though he tossed only 12 touchdown passes and turned the ball over 25 times, he still threw for 3,046 yards — and that’s with a wide receiver unit that left a lot to be desired talent-wise.
Namath said for Smith to beat out Vick he’ll have to improve dramatically in one specific category.
“The safest thing for me to say, the one factual thing for me to say that I know is his passing accuracy,” Namath said. “The rest of it, I don’t have a handle on – his mind, what he sees. The one thing I know he can improve on – and he does, too – is his accuracy.”
Vick, an 11-year veteran who is coming off an injury-plagued 2013 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, remains a dangerous pass-run threat. He was brought on board as a free agent to create a true quarterback competition, something general manager John Idzik wanted. However, he actually said not long ago that Smith is the starting quarterback and that his goal is to “help Geno become the best quarterback that he can be.” Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg recently said the following about the Smith-Vick competition:
“One thing I want to make sure of is that nothing impedes the young quarterback’s progression,” Mornhinweg said.
But Namath said the combination of Vick’s abilities and his knowledge of Mornhinweg’s offense should eventually put him over the top.
“Of course, the coaches are going to decide who’s out there. But I don’t know any football fan that’s been around for the last nine or 10 years that doesn’t think Michael could be outstanding and is probably the best player at this time,” Namath said.
The Jets will have their first organized team activities workouts on May 27-28.
Namath is no stranger to voicing his opinion on the quarterback situation. Right after Smith was selected in the second round of last year’s draft, Namath spoke out against the pick and assured the fans that Mark Sanchez would be a different player.
Sanchez now plays in Philadelphia.
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