With Mike Vick recently stating that he does not feel there is a fair and open competition being held for the Jets starting QB position and that he feels he can get the Jets to a Superbowl, it is becoming quite clear there is some degree of dissatisfaction growing here with regards to his position as a likely backup on the team. While every player should be aiming to start, the Jets are in a very precarious position at QB and can not afford to have any controversy for if they want to continue to ascend as a team.
On the one hand, they have invested a great deal of time and resources into Geno Smith, who despite early struggles as a rookie, bounced back nicely in the fourth quarter of the 2013 season to earn a hold on the job going into this season. On the other hand, Geno’s uneven performance during his rookie year was enough to force a reaction in the front office to bring in Mike Vick. The selection of Vick is an interesting one which speaks to the critical importance of the position more than anything else. Despite the teams best efforts of shedding the circus atmosphere present under their former GM, they decided to bring in a lightning rod of a player to provide competition, even at the expense of the brand image they are trying to promote going forward.
Vick is, of course, correct in his assessment of the situation. The Jets obviously have a vested interest in seeing Geno outplay the veteran and continue to progress as a potential franchise QB. If that is to happen, they simply can not afford a QB controversy at this point in time. So the deck seems stacked against Mike Vick. However, should Geno lose the job to him, as some NFL analysts have suggested, the Jets are potentially placing themselves in a difficult position for 2015 with no clear picture at what to do with the QB position going forward.
Though Vick is saying all of the right things, there is precious little time left for him in this league and he knows this is likely his last chance to start. It is not in his best interest to stay the course and accept the backup role. For the Jets, short of them catching lighting in a bottle and Vick managing to stay healthy for a deep playoff run, the opportunity cost of anointing Mike Vick their starter far outweighs the payoff. If the Jets do start Vick and manage to show some life on offense and go 8-8 or even 10-6, the Jets have essentially just kicked the can down the road a bit and left themselves in a position where they may have to resign Vick to a longer deal as their starter. That might be a very distasteful option for the Jets and fans as they would be putting the franchise in the hands of a declining, brittle vet ready to turn 35 for that season. A vet who, to this point, can claim only one injury free season in ten years as a starter and a 56.2% completion rating. For the Jets, that is simply not good business strategy. The alternative is to, once again, start over at QB with a high draft pick. Neither scenario presents the sort of approach we imagine when we think of GM John Idik’s mantra of sustainable success.
That is the dilemma in starting Mike Vick for this franchise and fans, he presents very limited short term returns for a team looking to take a pragmatic, long term approach to building a roster. In other words, he’s offering a fun, fast and entertaining ride to mediocrity to a team looking to position themselves to one day developing into a champion. The best thing that can happen for the Jets is for them to continue down the path with Geno Smith as their starter and allow Vick to be their very expensive insurance policy in the event that Geno gets injured. Then they can come out of 2014 with a clear answer on what exactly they have at the QB position. This would also allow them to make an intelligent decision on how to proceed at the position beyond this year.
For that to happen however, Vick will need to play the good soldier, avoid making waves and start to tow the company line. Unless, of course, he wants to start this season. In which case he will need to re-shuffle the deck and even the playing field by being outspoken which could quite possibly fracture the locker room as a result.