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 EVP of Content at Whistle Sports