The Jets had the opportunity to stomp out any talk about a quarterback competition on Wednesday. Instead, they fanned the flames.
Michael Vick told the media last week that second-year quarterback Geno Smith was the starter and he was ready for a mentor role, a shocking admission when team management had said there would be competition across the board for all positions. Vick reiterated that stance on Wednesday, saying “Nah, it’s not an open competition.”
Head coach Rex Ryan sounded — and looked — puzzled when asked why Vick would label the competition as closed.
“I don’t know. You know, I don’t know. I think there is competition, there’s no doubt,” Ryan said. “As a coach, you love it because you want to have — there’s nothing like [it] — it’s great having a competition and things. And obviously you compete in this league with everybody. But when you have competition in your own room, that’s what brings out the best in everybody. … For a coach, it’s an ideal situation to have that kind of competition. You try to get it at every position.”
Vick was unwilling to budge on his comments from last week, let alone clarify. In fact, he sounded confused about the competition and when asked if he outperforms Smith this offseason would he win the job, he responded, “That’s for the coaches to decide.”
“I’m just competing every day. I can’t tell you exactly what the situation is,” Vick said. “I’m competing every day to be the best I can be. That’s all I can do. The most important thing is to help this football team get better and win football games.”
This represents the third straight year the Jets have a muddled picture at quarterback. In 2012, Mark Sanchez faced a season-long quarterback competition after the Jets traded for Tim Tebow. A year later, Sanchez had beaten out Smith, who the Jets had taken in the second round of the NFL Draft, but Sanchez suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in preseason.
Now, there is more confusion for the Jets under center. During his press conference, Ryan called quarterback “a deep position.”
Ryan was already asked to handicap the race, even though the team hasn’t even put on pads yet.
“I think we’ll let it play out a little bit, being the second day of OTAs,” Ryan said. “It’s not the most competition — an open competition — but it’s competition. I don’t mean to make light of it, but in a way I think I should. It is the second day of OTAs and we have these questions. Again, let’s let it play out.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.