The quarterback controversy the Jets currently find themselves in is their own doing. It was a decision between the raw and unsteady Geno Smith and the proven Michael Vick that should have been settled in August. Instead, it was settled in April for Smith, before even the first snap of preseason.
When the Jets signed Vick this past spring, they made him a fairly expensive backup to Smith almost immediately. General manager John Idzik came into the job with a “competition” mantra. This was supposed to eliminate the perceived favor granted to veterans and draft picks on the Jets' roster over younger, inexperienced plays. Idzik used the word “competition” seven times in his introductory press conference to underscore a philosophical approach he has failed to live up to.
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“We’re going to continually develop, maintain and enhance a roster here that is grounded in competition,” Idzik said in January 2013. “There will be a constant influx of competition. When you’re in football, you relish competition. It gets everybody better. By that, I mean we’ll explore every measure to bring in talent and continue to compete.”
A “constant influx” — except at the most important position on the field.
Smith, Idzik's hand-picked quarterback from last year's draft, was anointed the starter before the first snap of offseason workouts. The 1-4 Jets are in this position in large part because Idzik didn't follow his own words.
It is pretty clear after 21 games what Smith is and will be — decidedly average. Smith has talent, but as sources told Metro last week, there was no clear-cut consensus about drafting Smith in the second round last year and question marks over whether he could be a franchise quarterback. The issues on offense run deeper than just Smith but he has yet to elevate the team this season.
Mark Sanchez, for all his faults, never treated fans or his fellow teammates like Smith has by cursing at fans or missing team meetings. He was nothing but a professional, even if the wins didn't come.
But Smith thinks he has everything figured out. He can yell and curse at fans who forked over thousands of dollars for season tickets and PSL licenses and blow off a team meeting before an important game. Yet this is the quarterback Idzik wanted.
What is being seen on the field on the offensive side of the ball is the fruit of no true competition for Smith. Coddled by the coaching staff, the second-year pro arrived feeling entitled as the Jets starter, even after a rookie season when he was benched three times and among the league leaders in interceptions.
Vick, with his four Pro Bowl appearances and postseason experience, was cast aside as a costly backup.
It will likely be head coach Rex Ryan who suffers the indignity of being fired after a fourth straight season missing the playoffs. But it will be Idzik's closed quarterback competition that costs the Jets head coach his job.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.