Updates from Friday, Aug. 22
Rich Cimini of ESPN reported the news :
Finally official: Smith will start week 1, per Ryan. #nyj— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) August 23, 2014
Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press provides Rex Ryan 's logic behind the decision :
Rex finally says Geno will be the starter: "He's done everything that we've asked." #Jets— Dennis Waszak Jr. (@DWAZ73) August 23, 2014
Rex on Geno: "I think he's taken off from where he left off (last year)" #Jets— Dennis Waszak Jr. (@DWAZ73) August 23, 2014
Rex says he feels "blessed" to have the QB situation he has with Geno and Vick. #Jets— Dennis Waszak Jr. (@DWAZ73) August 23, 2014
Geno Smith is the New York Jets' starting quarterback. At least for now.
Jets release first official depth chart. Starting QB (not surprisingly): Geno Smith. Mike Vick listed on second team #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 4, 2014
Following practice, Ryan spoke about the possibility of Vick being a chance-of-pace quarterback (via Rich Cimini of ESPN:
Ryan on possibility of using Vick as change-of-pace QB: "It never worked out the last time." Tebow reference. #nyj— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) August 4, 2014
Smith, 23, entered training camp as the starter and was expected to have a leg up in their position battle going into at least the first preseason game. In many ways, Monday's depth chart is merely an affirmation of what Ryan and players in the Jets locker room have been saying all summer.
“You never envision yourself being in this role (when you’re younger),” Vick told reporters last week, acknowledging he was the backup. “But as you grow older, you start to (realize) it’s inevitable. You know it’s going to happen. At the same time, I just try to keep myself in shape and keep trying to be the best that I can be, because you never know what can happen.”
Vick, 34, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with New York in March. The four-time Pro Bowler spent the last five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, winning the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award in 2010. While that season was expected to rejuvenate his career and keep the Eagles in playoff contention, injuries and familiar bouts of inconsistency cropped up.
After throwing for 21 touchdowns against six interceptions in 2010, Vick combined for 35 touchdowns against 27 interceptions in his last three seasons in Philly. He was supplanted midway through last season by Nick Foles, who made the Pro Bowl while running a Chip Kelly system in which Vick was expected to excel.
Despite his up-and-down play, some gave Vick the upper-hand over the inexperienced Smith when he first signed. Smith, the Jets' second-round pick in 2013, started all 16 games as a rookie but did not impress. The West Virginia product threw for 3,046 yards and 12 touchdowns against 21 interceptions, completing just 55.8 percent of his passes.
Football Outsiders' DYAR metric ranked Smith 43rd among the 45 quarterbacks who made 100 or more pass attempts last season. He also ranked last in Pro Football Focus' quarterback rating metric. He ranked near the bottom of the league in accuracy and poise under pressure, though he did find some success as a downfield passer.
More disconcerting was the company that Smith kept. His quarterback rating (66.5) was the lowest of any rookie signal-caller who started at least eight games since Blaine Gabbert, per Pro Football Reference. Other similar comparisons in recent years include Jimmy Clausen, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman.
Although that list is concerning, word out of Jets camp gives some hope that Smith is more Stafford than Gabbert. Ryan, never shy with praise of his players, has heaped it upon his young quarterback throughout camp, specifically highlighting his new-found confidence.
"The thing about it is, you have to climb up," Smith told ESPN.com's Rich Cimini last month of a poll that ranked him the NFL's worst starting quarterback. "If I'm No. 32, by this time next year or the year after, I expect to be in the top 5."
Jim Rome of CBS Sports wasn't buying the expectation:
Geno Smith expects to be a top 5 QB. That's cool. I expect to finish in the top 10 in the NL in batting next season.— Jim Rome (@jimrome) July 28, 2014
Whether that translates on the field is another question entirely. Vick's ability to stay healthy and be a Pro Bowl-level player is in question, but his resume dwarfs Smith's at this time. Any inkling of the pervasive troubles of Smith's rookie season, and there will be clamoring at MetLife Stadium for Ryan to give the veteran a shot.
Smith has the job as the Jets prepare for Week 1 of the preseason. Let's see if that's still the case Week 1 of the regular season.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.