There’s more work to do for the Jets wide receivers this week than simply adjusting to a veteran quarterback in Michael Vick.
They also have to get used to having a left-handed quarterback under center. It sounds like a small thing, but the wide receivers are actually taking steps to reacquaint themselves with a left-handed quarterback.The eyes and the hands have to be retrained, or trained, to receive the ball differently.
“A right hand throws counterclockwise and the left, obviously different. It’s something you have to adjust for,” tight end Jace Amaro told Metro. “You have to work on that; it’s something that’s an adjustment more than just he’s throwing from a different side. It’s a little thing, but when you’re used to it one way, it can change things up for you a bit. So you do need to work on it and every rep you get can help you, that’s for sure. You have to train yourself, train your eyes, train your hands for it.”
Wide receiver coach Sanjay Lal has flipped the switch on the Jugs Machine to emulate the different spin of the ball.
“The ball tails off differently,” wide receiver Eric Decker said. “A lefty tails off to the left, a righty to the right. Where it hits your hand, because of the spin, will be different.”
The last time the Jets had a left-handed quarterback was the ill-fated tenure of Tim Tebow in 2012. Tebow threw just eight passes that season, all of which came in either the Wildcat or on special teams as a personal punt protector. The only wide receiver on the roster from that team is Jeremy Kerley, though Decker spent some time with Tebow in Denver.
It goes beyond just the spin on the ball and the receivers training their eyes to the ball's different motion. Vick throws a different ball than Smith, whose motion is far more overhead. Vick is listed as three inches shorter than Smith — which will change the trajectory of the passes to his downfield targets — and Vick's motion is also more of a side-arm.
He also has a tremendous cannon of an arm and he broke the middle finger on the left hand of tight end Jeff Cumberland last Sunday with the zip on one of his passes. While Smith is no slouch in the arm strength department, Vick's arm strength is noticeable.
“He definitely throws the ball to you a little quicker. He has a lower release. He likes to throw it more from the side,” Amaro said.“He flings it at you quickly. It's different than Geno's ball, certainly.I like the way he throws the ball. He has a great touch on the ball.”
The wide receivers also said Vick throws the ball “out there a bit more” in terms of his placement, allowing for yards after catch. Smith throws more to the body which doesn't allow a player to catch it in stride.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.