New York Jets Look To Upgrade Backup Quarterback

Joe Caporoso on the New York Jets potentially signing Mike Vick to improve their quarterback depth

The New York Jets will be hosting quarterback Mike Vick Friday at Florham Park with hopes of securing him to compete with Geno Smith in training camp. Prior to the visit, the team seems to have leaked their thoughts on Vick’s potential role to the media. Vick will be given the chance to unseat Smith but will not be signed under the expectation of being a starter.

When you look at the remaining options to enter training camp as the Jets “backup quarterback” on the depth chart, Vick is easily the best option. Matt Schaub reportedly has no interest in coming to New York and is likely to be traded to Cleveland or Oakland in the coming weeks, particularly after Houston signed Ryan Fitzpatrick. Basically leaving the options down to Vick and Mark Sanchez, who remains on the roster and theoretically could be brought back on a restructured contract.

Vick is a better NFL quarterback than Sanchez. He always has been and was in the three most recent seasons that both quarterbacks played. Vick has had proven success in Marty Morhinweg’s offense and can both push Smith and competently handle the backup role if regulated to it.

The fact that Sanchez missed the entire 2013 season has seemed to make him a better quarterback in the eyes of many people. We don’t shy away from our archives on this site, we’ve defended Sanchez many times here. He was stuck with a poor situation in 2012 and not an ideal one in 2011 either. Regardless of the horrifically weak supporting cast, Sanchez was a terrible NFL quarterback in 2012, arguably the worst starting quarterback in the league, as a 4th year veteran. It doesn’t matter how bad the players around you are, a 54.3 completion percentage, 18 interceptions and 8 lost fumbles in 15 games with zero wins against a team with a winning record is brutal.

Sanchez missed all of last season with shoulder surgery and also underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in the past year. It was a different knee from the one he received surgery on a few years prior. The best season of Sanchez’s career was in 2010, when he posted a 54.8 completion percentage, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions en route to the Jets AFC Championship Game appearance. In 2011, his completion percentage climbed to 56.7 and he had 26 touchdowns but he also had 18 interceptions, 8 lost fumbles (compared to 1 to 2010), and played poorly down the stretch run of the season.

Comparatively, in 2010 Vick had the best season of his career under Marty Mornhinweg in Philadelphia, finishing with a 62.6 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 676 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. (Sanchez had 105 rushing yards and 3 rushing TDs in 2010 and 103 rushing yards and 6 rushing TDs in 2011). In 2011, Vick regressed to a 59.8 completion percentage, 18 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and 4 lost fumbles, along with 589 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown. Over the course of 2010 and 2011, he missed 6 of 32 potential games due to injury.

In 2012, Vick played in 10 games and posted a 58.1 completion percentage, 12 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 5 lost fumbles, 332 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown. Last season, before losing his job to Nick Foles, Vick had a 54.6 completion percentage, 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 306 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns and 2 lost fumbles. After being moved to backup, by all accounts Vick handled the demotion well and Foles thrived in Philadelphia’s offense.

The reason Mike Vick and Mark Sanchez are being considered for backup jobs is because they are heavily flawed players. They are both way too turnover prone, inconsistent, inaccurate and have durability concerns. (Yes, Vick’s are more substantial due to his history and age but the concerns exist for Sanchez as well). 2010-2012 is the last three seasons both participated in. Here is how the numbers compare:

  • Game Played: Sanchez – 47, Vick – 35
  • Pass Attempts/Completions: Vick – 690/1146 (60.2%), Sanchez – 832/1503 (55.3%)
  • Rushing Attempts: Vick – 238, Sanchez – 99
  • Passing touchdowns: Sanchez, – 56, Vick – 51
  • Rushing touchdowns: Vick – 11, Sanchez – 9
  • Passing yards: Sanchez – 9,648,  Vick – 8,683 yards
  • Rushing yards: Vick – 1,597 yards, Sanchez – 236 yards
  • Interceptions: Sanchez – 49, Vick – 30
  • Fumbles Lost: Sanchez – 17, Vick – 12

Sanchez threw 357 more passes than Vick but only had 965 more passing yards and 5 more touchdowns, He also had a 5% lower completion percentage and 19 more interceptions. Vick had 139 more rushing attempts, racked up 1,361 more rushing yards but still had 5 less fumbles lost than Sanchez. Basically, in this time span Sanchez averaged 1.04 interceptions per game and .36 fumbles lost per game. Vick averaged .85 interceptions per game and .40 fumbles lost per game. Sanchez generated 1.38 offensive touchdowns per game (combining rushing and passing) and Vick generated 1.77 offensive touchdowns per game.

Vick’s at his best (2010 under Mornhinweg) has never been close to being matched by Sanchez, in terms of completion percentage and touchdown to interception ratio. Sanchez’s worst (2012), has never been close to being matched by Vick, particularly in touchdown to interception ratio and lost fumbles.

The assumption that Sanchez would thrive in Mornhinweg’s system seems based on an uneven 2012 training camp and preseason. If we remove his garbage time reps against the New York Giants 3rd stringers (5/6, 72 yards, 1 lost fumble), he went 23/36, for 294 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown and one was thrown in the Jets end-zone. By all accounts, Sanchez (a 5th year veteran) started out camp slow and fell behind Geno Smith, a second round rookie, before eventually pulling ahead of him. We all saw how lost Smith was in the preseason. Beating out that player is nothing for a 5th year veteran to hang his hat on and while 23/36 for 294, 2 TDs/2 INTs is alright, it is nothing to hang your hat on either.

We’ve seen Vick play at a Pro-Bowl level for Mornhinweg in 2010, complete 60% of his passes for him in 2010 and 2011 (59.8% if you are nitpicking) and hit 58.1% in 2012. He is capable of pushing Smith this summer and handling the backup job if necessary (as he did last season in Philadelphia). He is a more dynamic player than Sanchez because of his ability to run and create plays outside of the pocket. If Smith went down, is a defensive coordinator more concerned about preparing for Vick on short notice or Sanchez? The answer is Vick.

When adding a backup quarterback, it is basically picking the best of bad options. Vick is a better bad option than Sanchez.

Note: I am aware certain people feel very strongly about Mike Vick’s actions off the field. However, it is my belief that he paid his debt to society and has been reinstated into the NFL, so we will analyze him on the field as we would any other player. Some people may not be comfortable rooting for him but that is not the debate for this article, which is meant to focus on him as a player. 

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • John X

    I agree with Joe that Mike did his time and had to forgo a 100M contract which is a severe penalty to pay. He’s paid his dues. I’d like to see him be more outspoken against this travesty but what are you going to do?

    That said, I’d like to see him because he can run this offense however he’s a turnover machine. I’m willing to take a gamble but IMO only want to see him accept a backup role. Reasonable people can differ on that and opt for competition.

  • Frank Antonelli

    Vick looks like a typical Idzik value signing. If Idzik was a stock picker he’d be a value investor looking for bargains that could provide a great return. There is some risk but the reward is much greater than any downside especially when you can just cut him if he proves to be a malcontent.

  • Lidman

    I have no issue with Vick the human being. What he did was wrong, but he served his time and appears to be contrite. I also think his ‘stepping to the side’ last year, without so much as a peep, says a lot about him.

    All this said, there is no way I want them to sign this guy, unless he’s a very cheap option. If you have to pay this guy more than you would a CB, to come in and push Geno, I don’t see that as being a good use of resources. He may well be capable of beating out Smith for the starting job. I don’t care, because A-there is no way he’s going to play 16 games and B-He’s 34 yrs old, and at best is a 2yr stop gap. Let Geno play the position, and have Simms or Sanchez be the back up. He’s not Tebow, but bringing in Vick certainly raises the ‘circus’ factor a lot more. I really hope they don’t sign him. I’m just worried their lack of FA signings don’t cloud their judgement, leading them to reach here.

  • Lidman


    I don’t think there is a high ‘malcontent’ risk here. He proved that last season, when Philly went with Foles. Ask for risk/reward, I think that really depends on what you pay for him. If the team pays him more than they would a starting CB, a position of need, I think it’s a poor value. Value trading is really more a long term strategy. Vick will be a 34yr old, injury prone QB who relies on his athletic ability as much as anyone. Why, at 34 would you think he will now be able to stay healthy. And, why bring him in as a possible ‘stop gap’. If the team is taking the approach to building a ‘sustained winner’, why not just let Geno, who’s 23, grow into that role? If you picked him last year, and you went with him in year 1, shouldn’t you give him the chance to grow?

  • Frank Antonelli

    Lidman. I agree that the malcontent risk is low at this point in his career. However, I think it would be wise for the Jets to be very clear with Vick about his role in order to avoid him becoming a malcontent due to communication issues. As long as he realizes that there are no promises being made and he is willing to take the risk of losing out to Geno than I’m all in.

  • Lidman

    Ok..but what do you pay him to come here? Can you really be happy, as a fan, if Idzik agrees to pay Vick more than Geno is making? More, can you understand why he wouldn’t resign A Cromartie for 1yr, at 6mm, to fortify his team (even if it’s just the short term), but will pay 3-5mm to bring in a back-up/Geno pusher QB? You were vehemently against the Tebow move. Isn’t this similar, bringing in a high profile guy to ‘back him up’ your starter? I’m not talking about who is a better QB, between the 2 (that’s obviously Vick). I’m talking about the circus atmosphere, and more going against his purported philosophy of building a long term, sustainable winner, via the draft. I think signing a guy like Vick, flies in the face of that ‘plan’ and screams of doing something, to make up for not doing something earlier.

  • simplysimon2

    NY, Vick & a PETA wet dream, a photo op in the making in the media center of the world. If Vick comes, so will the malcontents. Can the Jets weather the media storm? A different kind than Tebow’s. I’m for forgiving him, not for his sake but for ours. Let’s take “the high road” and forgive those who can’t forgive.

  • Bynie

    I don’t want Michael Vick. You get Vick, you get the controversy. You get the controversy you get the circus tents. Geno Smith needs weapons, not controversy. Supply him with the necessary weapons needed for him to succeed in the NFL and let MM develop him. Most quarterbacks don’t see success their rookie year and Geno is no exception. I just don’t buy the ‘He needs big competition to push him to succeed.’ Get a capable backup who can step in if needed and run the offense with some efficiency.

  • John X


    I don’t believe you will find many if any backups making less than one on a rookie contract. That’s just the way it goes now with the new CBA. Smith’s base was 405K.

  • Lidman


    Yup..more making the point that bringing in Vick, to compete, or back up, at a big numbers, seems to contradict his philosophy. If Geno were a rookie, I’d get it. He had a good December, the team has much bigger needs, so I don’t understand a move like this. I don’t know who said it, could have been you, but this whole ‘competition credo’ is a line of BS. Who are they bringing in to push Mo and Sheldon. Do we really believe Mangold and ‘Brick have competition for their jobs? What about newly acquired Decker, is he in competition?

  • Frank Antonelli

    Lidman. Really? You say he wouldn’t be a malcontent and then come back at me with this garbage?????? You really compare Vick to Tebow. I think you know the main difference is that Vick is an actual NFL QB and is a bargain who could serve his purpose of pushing Geno. It’s all about the competition mantra and fits into what Idzik is trying to accomplish.

  • John X


    I think that the word “competition” applies to those positions not grounded with established starters. I think the term is used loosely as BPA is. We know BPA is a myth because teams will not simply draft the best player on their board when it aligns with a position of strength and other needs have to be addressed.

  • Lidman


    I think I pointed out Vick being a better QB. I don’t get your first sentence though. No, I don’t think he would be a malcontent. However, you’re not bringing in some up and comer, or even a Matt Schaub, to come in and compete. You’re looking at bringing in arguably the best athlete to ever play the position. A guy who has more highlight reel type plays, in one season, than most good QBs have in a career. All that said, he’s never won, he’s small and fragile and he’s 34 yr old. I just don’t see him fitting the ‘Idzik plan’. If you go out and spend big on a back up QB, one who might start, why don’t you spend on a CB, another WR, and OLB or OL (like Schwartz). I just think this is a contradiction. Look, they may ‘stick to plan’ and not sign the guy, and this will all be moot. It’s ok to disagree, no?

  • Joe Caporoso

    *Matt Schaub has been traded to Oakland

  • Frank Antonelli

    The Idzik plan is to not over spend on free agents which has proven to be a losing game. Pick up bargains at the right price. Always have competition at every spot in order to push the players to be the best they can be. Vick fits in perfectly with that plan. He will push Geno in ways that Mark never was pushed. It will force Geno to either step up to the challenge or reveal to Jet management that they need to go in another direction. Either way the Vick investment will have been worth it.

  • JetOrange

    Invest in the development of Geno, Shaun Hill

  • Lidman

    Re: Schaub..Sanchez can’t be happy. Interesting the Texans signed Fitzpatrick too.

  • Great site, Mule. Maybe the best in pure analysis. Thanks.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Thanks Simon!!!

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  • KAsh

    Michael Vick is clearly on the downswing of his career, so it is inaccurate to compare Vick and Sanchez side-by-side. Sanchez, at worst, should keep his numbers from 2011-2012, unless his shoulder or knee never fully healed. Vick has been trending downwards for years and those trends have been accelerating. Starting with 2010 and going year by year, Vick’s numbers are:

    completion % of 62.6 -> 59.8 -> 58.1 -> 54.6
    TDs thrown 21 -> 18 -> 12 -> 5
    total rushing yds 676 -> 589 -> 332 -> 306
    Games played 12 -> 13 -> 10 -> 7
    TDs/game 1.75 -> 1.38 -> 1.20 -> 0.71
    pass yds/game 251.5 -> 254.1 -> 236.2 -> 173.6
    rush yds/game 56.3 -> 45.3 -> 33.2 -> 43.7

    This is clearly a player on his last legs, and if these trends continue, we should expect a completion percentage just above 50%, less than ten games, with less than six touchdowns in that span, about 150 passing yards per game, and hopefully between thirty and forty rushing yards per game. Vick has also steadily averaged an interception per game or more in Marty’s system for their last two years together.

    Vick was a better player than Sanchez, but he is clearly not the same anymore. He is a nice fit for the mentor role, as there is some hope that Geno becomes a more Vick-like quarterback, but I am one of those that want to see Geno develop as a pocket passer first and I think that at this point it is highly debatable who can push Geno more: Sanchez or Vick?

  • Zeb

    I agree with KAsh on this. Bringing in this guy makes no sense. The team is not a QB away from making the playoffs and what good is it bringing in a guy who’s health hasn’t been reliable? What if he beats out Smith, and gets hurt in games 1 or 2, and then the NYJ have to go to Smith? Then where does that leave them as far as a back up QB? Thinking Vick, as a starter, will survive a season is unrealistic, so in essence the team must be counting on Geno improving, even if they aren’t coming out and saying it.

  • Joe Caporoso

    My thought is that Geno will end up starting and Vick will back him up. If Smith does down, who is it more difficult for a defensive coordinator to prepare for, Vick or Smith? Who puts more fear in a defense? And who will push Geno more in camp?

    I honestly believe Vick is easily the answer to all three of those questions. He is in a downswing, yes but Sanchez downswinged from 2010 to 2011 to 2012 and then culminating in missing a whole season with an injury in 2013.

  • A Solomon decision, which baby do you spare? In GOD and Idzik do we trust!

  • As openings close, Sanchez may be more amenable to “an Idzik Special”.

  • Mike Z

    Joe, your point about Sanchez missing last season is somehow making him seem like a better QB is spot on. Sanchez must go. Vick is a much better QB than Sanchez and gives the team a chance to win if Geno has some of the same problems as last year. He will give Geno a serious challenge in the pre-season and that is what Idzik means by competing at all positions which is healthy. Whether its Sanchez or Vick the media will make the competition into a circus. I believe in his second season Geno will be up to the challenge and will start opening day.

  • Nick Evans

    I like the move Vick and geno has similar abilities so whoever wins the battle in camp or if one of them gets hurt the other could step in and keep the offense running status quo. Btw I just don’t see geno giving up his # at all I mean Vicks coming in to take his job so why would geno give him his #?? On a side note decker has a foundation that helps stray dogs find homes so it might get a little awkward with Vick around knowing his history…

  • Zeb

    Mike Z

    What was the Eagles record with Vick last season, or the season before that? He’s a hilight reel guy, who can’t stay healthy, is still turnover prone, at 34. Bringing him in here is a big mistake, in my uneducated, and humble opinion.

  • Angel

    …how could anyone be OK with the Jets bringing in Michael Vick?

    I wouldn’t take Michael Vick in his prime, let alone at the end of his career. Vick has never been a good Quarterback. Michael Vick is not even a decent QB at this point, and he HAS NOTHING TO TEACH GENO [besides bad habits].


  • Johnny

    this signing would be very dumb. the guy has not played well in years. he lost his job last year. signing him would alienate the fan base because many like me do not think he should be playing in the NFL. you can restructure sanchez to play back up who is only 27 and could resurect his career if given any kind of offensive talent to work with. why in the world would the jets want to go down this road? vick is old and not that good of a football player anymore and many people don’t want to root for him. what is the upside? he is going to mentor geno???? what a joke.

  • KAsh


    There are downswings and there are downtrends. Sanchez has been trending down, but he is still young and when you play 15, 16, 16, & 15 games each year and then zero games that last number is not statistically significant. Sanchez should have no problem playing all sixteen games next year. Vick is on his downswing; there is no going back up.

    Compare their last years in action:

    Vick played in seven games, threw for an average of 173.6 yards per game, ran for an average of 43.7 yards per game, threw 0.71 touchdowns per game, and commited an average of 0.71 turnovers. He was throwing to Desean Jackson, Riley Cooper, with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz at tight end, Lesean McCoy coming out of the backfield, and Chip Kelly calling plays.

    Sanchez played in fifteen games, threw for an average of 192.2 yards per game, ran for an average of 1.9 yards per game, threw for an average of 0.87 touchdowns per game, and commited 1.73 turnovers per game. He was throwing to Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens (quite sad that Holmes played in only four games and still had the third most yards for a wideout on the team), had Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland at tight end, Shonn Greene coming out of the backfield, and Tony Sparano calling plays.

    I am not banging the table for Mark Sanchez, and that turnover rate is ghastly, but this site has spent a lot of effort chronicling just how bad each of the Jets personnel (sans Kerley) were. Vick had a lot of talent around him and could not even outthrow Sanchez from 2012. Vick’s numbers are likely to get worse this year. I realize that after four years you are tired of covering the comically inept Sanchez, but who is more likely to win you games next year? What kind of numbers do you realistically see Vick putting up in this offense?

  • Joe Caporoso

    I see Geno starting and improving from last season. I think if he goes down for a couple of weeks or needs to be benched for a handful of games, Vick is more likely to come in and win a few games. I don’t anticipate Vick playing 16 games for us and hope he has to play in zero.

  • Gary G

    I’m not a Vick lover by any means, but he is familiar with the Morningwheg version of the WCO, so forget what he does on the field, off the field, he will be an upgrade over Sanchez. I was encouraged to see Vick accept a backup role after he lost his starting gig to injury. Think of Vick as an upgrade over Garrard, not over Sanchez.

  • Lidman

    Gary G…good way to look at it.

  • joeydefiant

    The Jets are basically the Eagles from 2010 now.