The Jets didn’t sign Michael Vick just to be a backup and a mentor, but that doesn’t mean they have given up on Geno Smith quite yet.
When the Jets brought Vick on board a month ago, they added a quarterback who a season ago had won the starting job in Philadelphia after training camp. His proven track record makes him intriguing competition for Smith, who struggled for the first half of his rookie season.
But on Tuesday, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg wouldn’t give the edge to the veteran Vick, who he coached during his stint with the Eagles. Instead, he said Smith will have the initial edge and get the first snaps of training camp.
“Geno will get a few more reps, but not many,” Mornhinweg said on a conference call with the media. “I would expect Geno to progress at a high rate with Mike’s help.”
“[The] offensive coaching staff wouldn’t be surprised if Vick won the training camp battle,” a team source said. “We all know his ability and skillset. [It] will be an open competition, but Geno certainly showed a lot of potential last year.”
But is potential enough in 2014, especially with new pieces on offense and more on their way via next week’s NFL Draft?
Smith struggled with consistency in the pocket and was a turnover machine last season as he attempted to force passes into double and sometimes triple coverage. Smith will continue to face a learning curve in his second year in the league.
Smith came from the Air Raid offense at West Virginia, a pass-happy offense that masked his deficiencies in terms of reading coverages. In order to beat out Vick, he will will need to show more savvy and a greater understanding in reading defenses.
People around the Jets believe he can do that, but this year might be too soon they say.
When the Jets signed Vick last month, a team source told Metro New York the veteran quarterback would have the chance to compete for the starting job. The message from Mornhinweg on Tuesday was no different, even if it seems like the incumbent Smith comes in with a leg up.
“We brought Mike in to compete — to push Geno and to make Geno the very best,” Mornhinweg said.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.