Thursday, October 9, 2014

If sidelined Vick is not practicing "seriously" with "borderline" players, how can he be blamed with the inane insistance of giving Smith all the starter reps?

Back in July, an NFL "insider" for CBS Sports said that the stack had already been decked to insure that Geno Smith would emerge as the New York Jets' starting quarterback. "So Smith should get heavy work early. It only makes sense. Build him up. Make it his job to lose ... knowing full well that he just might lose it. He should get a lot of work, maybe even all the work, with the starters in the first two preseason games, and by the third game, let the production to that point indicate how much or little (Michael) Vick plays with the starters in the final few games. Vick should be able to produce even with limited reps at this stage of his career -- it's precisely why he is a Jet in this situation."

Talk about making huge assumptions. This is how the Jets were setting up the season for the most vital position on the field? Try to "fix" Smith's obvious deficiencies by giving him all of the first team reps, and let Vick rot on the sidelines, or with the practice squad (euphemistically called the "scout team"). In other words, have the awful Smith--and they knew he was--practice every down with the starters to no discernible positive effect, and let Vick and Matt Simms "hang" with the players who were not even on the 53-man roster. Who are these guys? Rookies and "borderline" players who had been cut, and whose max salary is less than 100 grand, and whose basic function was to serve as "stand-ins" for the opposition during practice, and not always a serious-taken occupation.

Since the Jets long since telegraphed their intention to start their least of three quarterbacks before the season even started, it could be argued that they were showing Vick a certain amount of disrespect. Vick certainly has eyes to see that he is a much better quarterback than Smith. Furthermore, too many NFL teams have foolishly discarded the notion that a rookie quarterback with questionable intangibles and decision-making skills should sit out a year or two behind a proven veteran quarterback like Vick. Instead, they try to shoe-horn in a player like Smith in the "hope" that he will quickly "learn" the game with "on-the-job training." This certainly didn't work with Mark Sanchez, and only does so if the young quarterback either has the all the tools already in himself (Andrew Luck), or has the good fortune of being surrounded by a supremely talented team (Russell Wilson) and plays with some measure of competence and common sense (unlike, say, Smith).

There are some people "outraged" about Vick's recent comments about how he had not prepared himself sufficiently, and had not taken practicing with the scout team as seriously as he should have, thus accounting for his substandard play coming in relief of Smith against San Diego last Sunday. Vick went on to say that he allowed Matt Simms to get most of the scout team reps, because he felt that Simms needed them more. He "assumed" as a 12-year veteran he had it all "down." But then again, the coaching staff should have been smart enough to know that playing against one of the better teams in the NFL--having defeated the defending Super Bowl champions earlier in the season--Smith could be expected to be even worse than usual, and it might have been a smart idea to allow Vick at least a few reps with the starters.

Unfortunately, almost everyone seems to be bone-headed when it comes to Smith. Who can blame Vick when no matter how awful Smith plays, it doesn't matter. We can say that it should matter to him if he is ready or not, but then again, why should it? If Vick had played well against the Chargers, would he have been named the starter against Denver? Probably not. It is likely that the Jets are going to be blown out by Manning and company in front of the home crowd if Smith starts, but the Jets would rather cling to imbecility and "hang" with Smith than show Vick some respect and give him at least some first-team reps. Why should he take this team and his place on it seriously?

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