Yes, Mike Vick was right when he said the Jets’ quarterback position won’t entail an open competition in 2014. But that doesn’t mean Smith will have it easy in his season NFL season. Or that Vick won’t eventually be playing.
As explained by Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, other teams will be studying the bump in Smith’s performance late in his rookie year to come up with ways to shut him down this time around.
“I think he’ll be better this year, but the other thing is, every team will have had the opportunity to watch 16 games and break him down,” Titans cornerback Jason McCourty told Cimini this week regarding Smith.
Per Cimini, Smith increased his running in the final four games of the year, racking up 31 rushing attempts for 186 yards and three scores. It made his more effective generally, but that will give the teams who’ll face him early this year greater ammunition to defend against the Jets.
Smith will have to get ready to bust through a ceiling that applies to every second-year starting quarterback while getting only 75 percent of the first-team reps during training camp practices. Though not a 50-50 may-the-best-man-play situation, Smith will still be giving up some opportunities to Vick, because the Jets realize that a season worth of tape could result in defenses that Smith won’t be able to solve.
The challenge for the Jets will be striking the right balance between getting Smith and Vick ready and, ultimately, knowing when to flip the switch to Vick if Smith struggles.