From the moment Michael Vick was signed by the New York Jets, it became clear it was only a matter of time he’d take over for Geno Smith as the team’s starting quarterback, although it’s not quite clear he is good enough anymore to immediately improve things for one of the worst teams in the NFL this season.
Smith was benched for a second time this season by Rex Ryan in favor of Vick during the 43-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Smith left the field after completing just 2-of-8 passes for five yards, with three of his incompletions turning into interceptions. Vick came on and didn’t do a whole lot better: He completed 50% of his passes and was intercepted once. But he did run well, as he always has, and the Jets looked a little bit less pathetic as they dropped to a 1-7 record, losing seven straight after an opening week win.
While Smith has tasted the bitter taste of getting benched mid game, it’s going to be the first time in his short NFL career that he doesn’t start when the Jets line up to face the Kansas City Chiefs. The Jets are 9-15 under Smith as a starter, who has thrown 31 interceptions over that period. He’s 33rd in the NFL out of all 33 qualified quarterbacks with a 56.2% completion ratio. Only Blake Bortles has thrown more interceptions than him this season (Smith has 10) and his passer rating of 65.6 is also last among qualified quarterbacks.
This isn’t a move to ensure a better future for the franchise. It’s a move to try and stop the abysmal displays on the field, and try and finally win a football game. After doing not too badly last season and not being too far away from making the playoffs, the Jets have crashed this season. More than anything, this isn’t just a move by Rex Ryan to try and save his job. It almost feels like he’s trying to avoid getting fired before the season is actually over.
Vick hasn’t started an NFL game in over a year, when Chip Kelly benched him in favor of Nick Foles, a move that worked out pretty well for the Eagles over the last 12 months or so. Is Vick good enough to get the Jets on some sort of positive trajectory? Hard to tell from his poor numbers in three appearances this season, but for a guy who hasn’t changed much since entering the league, and continues to rely on his fading legs instead of reading a defense, the prospects don’t look too great for the Jets.
After three bad years of missing the playoffs and quarterback controversy following him every season, Rex Ryan is down to his last joker and card. If Vick, who will probably do better than Smith has, can’t save him, no one will. Geno Smith is quite confident that this isn’t going to affect him eventually becoming a franchise quarterback for the Jets or anyone else, but it certainly doesn’t help him. However, it was hard playing any worse than he did so far this season, hence the expected decision to leave him out.