As expected, since arriving in the Big Apple as a free agent in March, Michael Vick’s presence has further fueled the debate surrounding Geno Smith and the often-newsworthy battle to become the New York Jets’ starting quarterback.
But with training camp now upon us much of the talk has been shoved aside in favor of actual, on-field results, and after the team’s first week in Cortland, NY, Smith appears to be the early favorite.
However, according to General Manager John Idzik who spoke to the media on Friday, neither the veteran newcomer nor the struggling sophomore has done enough to pull the decision in their favor despite the team’s desire to make Smith the primary focus in training camp.
”Going into camp, we’re going to give the lion’s share to Geno and we’ll see how he responds. And so far he’s responded very well,” said Idzik.
Still more than a month shy of the regular season a lot could change, but during practices on Thursday and Friday Smith saw a combined 26 reps with New York’s lead offensive unit, while Vick was given just nine snaps with the starters over the same period.
In his first season as a pro, Smith threw for 3,046 yards with 12 touchdowns while completing 55.8 percent of his passes in 16 games.
Possibly even more concerning, the former West Virginia pivot also tossed 21 interceptions, combined for 25 turnovers, and finished his rookie campaign with a passer rating of 66.5-the worst in the entire league.
And for a big-market franchise such as the Jets, a recent ESPN survey naming Smith as the worst starting quarterback in the NFL can’t be good for business, even if the young pivot responded to the ”honor” with a prediction regarding his future success.
”If I’m No. 32, by this time next year or the year after, I expect to be in the top five,” said a confident Smith.
Despite obvious intentions to make Smith their quarterback of the future when he was taken with the 39th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Jets seem even more committed to making the 23-year old stick as the starter his second time around.
After signing Vick on the same day that Mark Sanchez was officially cut loose, it was widely speculated that New York had brought the veteran in to replace Smith as the team’s lead option under center following his performance as a rookie.
While that scenario seems less likely with each day that New York is in training camp, Vick is an experienced starting quarterback who also operated with a ton of confidence as a youngster, and someone who could provide Smith with a much better on-field mentor than Sanchez ever could have.
But regardless of who the Jets choose as their starting quarterback, football’s fan-scape and the NFL-related media that feeds it is once again buzzing about a team that had to win it’s final two games last season just to finish 8-8 and hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2010.