New York Jets – Open Quarterback Competition-Gate

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This is “slow” time in the NFL calendar. Despite OTAs, there is really not all that much news pouring out. This leads to the need for story generation. Not surprisingly, the headliner of that story generation around the New York Jets is the quarterback situation. There is nothing new or groundbreaking to report about it. The same quotes are being recycled from early March. Yet, elements of a shut out local media who have been left in the dark on the team’s thinking throughout the entire offseason is knee jerking into writing things like this

The team responsible for the Butt Fumble is in danger of mishandling a potentially volatile situation. It’s probably Smith’s job to lose, but team officials haven’t characterized it that way. They speak in code phrases, saying they expect Vick to “push” Smith and to compete with the second-year player.

Ultimately, this isn’t a shocker. When Vick was first signed, Rich Cimini, who wrote the above quote led his story with this

The New York Jets set the stage for another season of compelling quarterback drama and perhaps controversy by signing former longtime starter Michael Vick on Friday.

Cimini’s line of commentary isn’t unique to many who cover and follow the team. Yet when looking at that quote and line of thinking, does everybody forget how often the Jets were appropriately criticized for never having a credible veteran backup quarterback? Ironically, the second they signed one, criticism began to pour in for creating “drama,” which is nonsensical.

The Jets quarterback situation has been relatively clear since the end of the season. Geno Smith finished strong enough to merit heading into training camp on top of the depth chart but didn’t play well enough to merit not being pushed strongly by a better, more proven quarterback than Matt Simms. The Jets evaluated Vick as the best available free agent option, which was not an uncommon line of thinking based on who was available. Vick had the added benefit of being familiar with Marty Mornhinweg’s offense and of a previous relationship with Smith.

Right or wrong, the Jets never seriously considered bringing Mark Sanchez back, believing he was an insufficient option, particularly compared to Vick and that Matt Simms was not capable of being the number two quarterback. Smith’s quote immediately after the Vick signing spoke well to that belief

We needed to find a guy that was legitimately a guy that could come in and play. I think that’s what we did. Mission accomplished.

The line of thinking on Smith and Vick was always that Smith would start as the team’s top quarterback and be given the benefit of the doubt in any tight race, which is completely logical considering he is a second round pick in his second year and Vick is nearing the end of his career and is on a one year contract. Only in the case of Vick clearly outplaying Smith, would Vick begin the season as the starter and more prominently, Vick allows the Jets to have a much quicker hook for Smith than they did in 2013. There won’t be a four game hesitation to go to the backup if Smith goes through a slump like he did last November, the team is confident Vick can come in off the bench and win a few games if necessary.

Look at the quotes from Vick immediately after he signed with the team:

As of now, Geno is the starting quarterback for this football team,” Vick said in a conference call with reporters. “From this point on, we’re going to compete every day. I wouldn’t say I’d necessarily be OK with sitting on the bench, but I know what I signed up for,” said Vick, who described Smith as a good friend. “I know what I came to New York to do. First and foremost, I came to compete and be there for Geno. I know he has a long way to go, but we both talked and we both agree we’re going to push one another and make each other better.”

By every report, Smith and Vick split first team reps on the first open OTA practice. Vick didn’t say anything out of line with his original comments. Actions speak louder than words, no? Rex Ryan has consistently said “it is a competition” and that Smith will be hard to beat but Vick will be given the chance to compete, which it appears he is since he received a huge chunk of first team reps. Marty Mornhinweg provided the quote that basically sums up all you need to know about the Jets situation at quarterback right now to Dom Cosentino of NJ.com..

There is competition,” Mornhinweg said. “Now, it may not quite be like the competition we had last year [between Smith and Mark Sanchez], where everything was 50/50. We’re trying to continue the progression with Geno, and then have Mike ready to go. It’s just that simple, and Mike knows the exact expectations and roles that he has, and Geno knows the exact expectations.

There is no need for a daily cycle of hand wringing. Expect Smith to take the first snaps in training camp, to start the first pre-season game and if he plays Vick to a draw or a near draw to get the opening day start. The team likes Smith’s long term potential and believes he will make the necessary strides this offseason with another year of the offense under his belt and improved weapons around him. They have Vick in place as a strong insurance policy if their faith in Smith was misplaced.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    The Jets beat reporters (outside of a few exceptions) should be ashamed of themselves.

    I hope Idzik keeps a list of the reporters who have completely abandoned any sense of professionalism & gives them all the ‘#Hitchhike’ treatment at some point in time.

  • Nick Evans

    When Sanchez was going downhill the media blamed it on him being coddled and handed the job now then we bring a solid QB and viable starter to push and compete with geno and they’re writing articles on how were mishandling the situation after a couple of OTAs. Just shows you how the media looks to turn things into a soap opera rather than do their jobs and report on and analyze the team. That’s why I choose reading sites like this over espn ny and the papers. It’s just better plain and simple.

  • Frank Antonelli

    The clown media hard at work! Mark Sanchez was responsible for the butt fumble, but he’s gone so the idiot Cimini has to find a way to still attach it to the Jets. What a freaking clown. He’s the worst sports writer. No other team has an idiot like Cimini writing about them. If you view his articles the comments are almost 100% negative towards his reporting and yet he continues his tired act and the clowns at ESPN keep him employed. Unfortunately he is so bad that he’ll NEVER be promoted.

  • Dan in RI

    Hopefully, Geno’s play during OTA’s and training camp will put this story-line to rest. Cimini should be ashamed of himself for bringing up the butt-fumble two years after it happened, when Sanchez is long gone, Tannenbaum is gone, and the offensive coordinator at that time is gone. He, along with some of the other beat writers, are absolutely invested in trying to make us believe that this team is “the same old Jets”, when there is nothing about the team that resembles the team of two years ago (except a handful of very good players, like Mangold, Brick, and Wilkerson). I actually like Cimini, and although he tends to be a bit negative, I generally don’t mind–I’d rather not get my team news from a homer who looks at everything through rose-colored glasses. But sometimes he latches on to tired, useless story-lines that are just meant to stir up controversy where there is none.

  • http://gravatar.com/gregersjungersen Gregers Jungersen

    If I was in Vick’s shoes (or his agent’s) I would also do everything I could to make everybody aware that Geno is the incumbent starter and that the competition is not even. Vick is on a one year contract and needs to keep his value up. With the common notion of an uneven competition he will emerge as a winner no matter who is starting during the season. If Geno starts, Vick can say that he never got the chance and wasn’t beaten on fair grounds. And if Vick starts he will even be able to say that he won the spot in spite of Genos advantage and that Vick is obviously much better than Geno. A win-win situation for Vick, but only if it’s accepted the competition isn’t 50/50.

    So expect Vick to keep pushing his new mantra for some time.

  • Lou

    I think this is way it should be. Geno is the starter. If he fails Vick is there and Jets need to go get another QB. Vick to fragile to be QB in nfl. So MM knows he needs to get Geno ready.

  • joeydefiant

    gregers jungensen summed up vicks motivation and words pretty solid right there. its all a business and people are just lookoing to further their own ends.

  • jmac_the_man

    Worse than Cimini is Kimberly Martin, who published this Rex Ryan quote in Newsday yesterday in an article about how Rex allegedly disagrees with Vick and says Rex saysit’s an open competition. Here’s the quote as she presented it:

    “Again, I think we’ll let it play out a little bit,” Ryan said. “It’s the second day of OTAs. It’s not closed competition . . . it’s competition. And I don’t mean to make light of it, but in a way I think I should. It’s the second day of OTAs and here we have these questions. But again, let’s let it play out.”

    In the full quote (what Ryan ACTUALLY said), the second sentence is “It’s not closed competition, and it’s not open competition. It’s competition.” Rex was in fact making the exact same “it’s not 50-50″ point that the team has been making since Vick signed. Martin added the elipsis to make it sound like Ryan said the EXACT INVERSE of what he actually said.

    Cimini, of course, is Cimini-level bad. But Martin is normally one of the good ones. After this, though…

  • http://gravatar.com/theelidman lidman

    Great summation of the situation here Joe. I don’t get the vitriol for Cimini, or any other member of the media though. Fans (remember what that is short for), have an insatiable thirst for the NFL. I mean this is a league that nationally televises it’s 7 round draft over 3 days. It’s NY, the largest media market in the country, you have dozens of papers and websites all vying for readers, or web hits, in order to bring in those advertising dollars. They sensationalize and often take the approach that will cause the most controversy, so we read and then comment on it. Joe likely created TOJ, because he believed not only would there would be demand for even more NYJ content, but there would also be a niche for fans to take shots at the media…well done.

    If you’re in the media, and you’re constantly going with the flow…agreeing…and not intitating a difference of opinion, you’re not likely to be employed that long.

  • http://gravatar.com/theelidman Lidman

    “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”-PT Barnum

    Cimini…Manish…et al….everytime they get mentioned here simply gives them more ammuntion to their higher ups, that people are following, and reacting to what they say….

  • twoshady18

    good point Lidman. Maybe ignore them and they’ll go away? Or what if we sign a petition to get Cimini fired from Jets Beat? He’s a beat writer that absolutely hates the team. I never see good reactions to his articles. i personally read their articles just to keep my own views in check, but I would rather see factual news than over blown opinions and fabrications.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Tanny clearly operated under a “There is no such thing as bad publicity” policy & it not only got him fired, but it lead to him being unable to secure another job in the NFL.

    Furthermore, journalists have a code of ethics & the first item listed is:

    “Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.”

    http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

    The clown media clearly ignores this professional responsibility.

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