Open or closed? Mixed signals on Jets’ QB battle
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Rex Ryan and Michael Vick might need to huddle up.
While Ryan insisted Wednesday there’s “no doubt” the New York Jets have an open competition at quarterback, Vick continued to differ.
So, here’s where we are: It’s a controversy over a competition that could become a controversy at some point in training camp.
“I think there is competition, there’s no doubt,” Ryan said after the Jets completed the second day of organized team activities. “As a coach, you love it.”
But, shortly after Ryan’s news conference, Vick reiterated his comments from last week, and has said since he signed with New York in March, that Geno Smith is the team’s starting quarterback.
“Nah,” Vick said. “It’s not an open competition.”
Ryan and general manager John Idzik have preached competition at all positions. While Ryan acknowledged that some competition has to be “manufactured” — for instance, center Nick Mangold, left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson are in no danger of losing their jobs — players pushing each other on the field improves everyone.
That was the thought when the Jets signed Vick in March; he would give Smith a serious run for the job. But last week, Vick made it clear he thinks this is Smith’s job to lose and it’s not an open competition, at least not like last year when he and Nick Foles went against each other in Philadelphia.
“We’ve got two guys who are really pushing to be the starting quarterback,” Ryan said, when asked about Vick’s comments from last week.
Vick and Smith split snaps with the starting offense Wednesday.
“I’ve said from Day 1 that I think Geno will be hard to beat out,” Ryan said. “But I’ve also said Mike will have an opportunity to compete, and he definitely will.”
The coach added he didn’t know why Vick thinks it’s not a true competition, but was noncommittal when asked if Vick could be the starter if he outperforms Smith in camp.
“I think we’ll let it play out a little bit,” Ryan said. “It’s the second day of OTAs, so it’s not a closed competition.”
That’s news to Vick, though. He at first danced around questions regarding the quarterback situation and Ryan’s comments.
“I’m here to compete every day to help this team win football games,” Vick said, later repeating that line a few times before appearing to grow frustrated.
“I don’t know how to answer this question,” Vick said. “This is the third time around.”
Smith, who has repeatedly said he’s taking nothing for granted, was not made available to the media.
Vick doesn’t appear disgruntled about his situation, and hasn’t indicated he was misled when he signed a one-year, $4 million deal and was reunited with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
“I knew what I was getting into when I got here,” he said. “It’s everything I expected. I’m having fun with the guys. Everything is team oriented. We’re just having a good time. We just have to keep everything rolling. That’s the most important thing.”
One thing’s for sure: Whoever wins the job will have a proven receiver in Eric Decker to throw to. But the former Broncos star is going from Peyton Manning to an unsettled quarterback situation.
Arguably the top wide receiver available when free agency opened, Decker visited the Jets first and never left. Now, he’s expected to give New York a No. 1-type target.
“I’ve been telling people I feel like a rookie all over again, which is nice,” Decker said. “I’ve got to prove myself, in a way.”
Decker broke out in a big way the last two seasons, catching a combined 172 passes for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns.
“The two years I got to spend with (Manning), he made me a better professional,” Decker said. “But, again, I see a lot of talent in this quarterback room, and I’m excited about growing with them.”
NOTES: S Calvin Pryor, the team’s first-round pick, sat out because he needs three wisdom teeth pulled and his mouth is swollen. “I can’t put my helmet on,” he said. “So (the trainers) don’t want me out there with contact right now.” He expects to practice next week. ... RB Chris Johnson caused a stir Tuesday night when he tweeted that the Jets should pursue disgruntled Texans WR Andre Johnson. “Anytime you’ve got another friend in the league, you always want to play with him,” Chris Johnson said. ... WRs David Nelson (illness) and Shaq Evans (finishing school) and RB Mike Goodson (knee) were among those not at the voluntary sessions Wednesday. ... The Jets signed CB Brandon Dixon, a sixth-round pick, to a four-year deal. That leaves Pryor and CB Dexter McDougle, a third-rounder, as the only unsigned players of the Jets’ 12 selections.
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