By Jason Keidel
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We always say that competition is healthy, and nowhere is that coda more exemplified than in sports.
So if the Jets are really interested in Michael Vick, then they probably think he can either compete for or win the starting job at quarterback. So that’s a good thing. Right?
What else do the Jets have going on at the position? While we all agree Geno Smith didn’t have the ’82 Chargers at his side last season, he didn’t exactly make fans forget Joe Namath. Maybe Smith wins the job, anyway. But he won’t win or lose the gig based on someone the Jets bring in because franchise QBs aren’t free agents.
Sure, Vick brings baggage. Just because he’s out of jail doesn’t mean most of us forgot how he got there. But for better or worse, it seems the world has moved on. So if we judge Vick based entirely on his football prowess, he has powers that Smith doesn’t.
Vick can hurl a ball across area codes, while we’re still not sold on Smith’s arm. Vick may not run a 4.2 40-yard dash anymore, but he probably runs a robust 4.4. Smith often runs like he’s wearing snowshoes.
Vick has won a playoff game at Lambeau Field, and has put up some big games since he was released from prison. Smith sometimes looked out of his element — he was even benched for a spell — and perhaps needed a year clutching a clipboard before being thrown into the madness.
Most great quarterbacks commandeer the starting job the moment they step on the field, but not all icons were hatched with a Super Bowl ring. Terry Bradshaw struggled his first few years, and was often benched before he became, well, Terry Bradshaw. Roger Staubach had to split time with Craig Morton. Brett Favre was traded from the Falcons. My beloved black and gold cut John Unitas, who went on to have a decent career in Baltimore.
Smith didn’t exactly lock up the job with 12 touchdown passes, 21 interceptions and a 35.94 QBR. And though he needs more time and talent around him to truly prove his wares, a little competition can only make him try harder.
And we have no proof that Vick can’t play. We only know that Nick Foles threw 19 touchdowns before his first interception, which pretty much secured the lock on the starting gig.
If Vick were to play for anyone other than the Eagles, this is the place. Marty Mornhinweg, current Jets offensive coordinator, worked with Vick in Philadelphia. And because of injury and incarceration, Vick doesn’t have the same tread on his tires that another 34-year-old QB would have. He’s never thrown more INTs than TDs, and in just a few games last year he ran for 306 yards and two scores.
Lord knows that Mark Sanchez’s 15 minutes have expired. Even the most jaded Jets fans realizes it’s time for the Sanchise to find a new franchise. We can parse the particulars all we like, and wonder why he started so well and crashed so hard, but No. 6 can never be No. 1 again in New York City.
So why not Vick? This assumes, of course, that he wants to come here. But consider that both the team and the QB are desperate for fresh starts, and Rex Ryan needs an accomplished QB at some point if he’s to keep surviving his yearly review.
We know Vick is very brittle. But the risk is minimal and the reward could be substantial. In the absence of firepower at the skill positions, the Jets need someone who can improvise. And we know Michael Vick can do that, even if just for a few games for a forlorn franchise just looking for a break.
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