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Jets' Ryan says Vick, Smith will battle for job

The SportsXchange

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday the team's starting quarterback job this season will be an open competition between newly signed Michael Vick and Geno Smith.

"It's going to be a really interesting competition to watch," Ryan said at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla. "Geno Smith is going to be hard to beat out.''

Ryan stressed he is seeking competition at every position, not just quarterback. Ryan is excited about the mobility of his quarterbacks.

"He's an unusual guy," Ryan said of Vick. "He was unusual when he came out of the league because of how athletic he was but I think he's definitely still ... you see all that athleticism he has. He can still run, moves well in the pocket, he's more accurate when throwing from the pocket than he used to be when he came into the league.

"He's got a big arm and can still run so very dangerous. I like the fact that both those guys give us the ability to run zone reads and all those types of things that help your running game. Having a guy, that mobile quarterback, is harder to defend then maybe a guy who's a stationary pocket guy.

"That being said, I'd probably rather defend a mobile quarterback than a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady."

Vick signed a one-year, $5-million deal Friday after the Jets released Mark Sanchez.

"In an ideal situation, they both earn the job," Ryan said. "That's the way to do it and you can't go wrong in my opinion. Any competitor, you better want to be the starter at that position. Only one guy can be back there."

Last season's 8-8 Jets won three of their final four games with Smith playing his best football down the stretch.

"That's why, watch out for the Jets, man. I'm telling you,'' Ryan said. "My expectations haven't changed: I want to win and I expect to win. That's why I'm so confident that if I could say anything to our fans, it would be, 'We can't wait to get started.'"

Ryan said he contacted Smith after the Jets signed Vick, who went 20-20 during his four-season tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles. Smith went 8-8 in his rookie season, throwing 12 touchdowns with 21 interceptions.

"I texted him," Ryan said of Smith. "I was excited, 'Hey, kid: We're going to sign Mike Vick.' He was all excited. You could feel it on the other end. He's happy about it. What Geno wants to do is he wants to get better. That's how he works.

"I think he looks at us getting Mike Vick as a chance for him to get better, from a veteran mentor who played in that system."

Vick had his 2010 Pro Bowl 21-touchdown renaissance under former Eagles and current Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

"I think everybody is going to be surprised with where Geno is at," Ryan said. "I'm excited about him, the progress he made during the year. He was getting better. Yeah, he had that little drop off. But quite honestly, Johnny Unitas would have had a little drop off. He came out of it and the football team came out of it. That's why I was so confident at the end of the year that we were playing our best football."
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