Jets coach Rex Ryan says quarterback Michael Vick could be the opening day starter

Anwar S. Richardson

ORLANDO, Fla. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was given every opportunity to say Geno Smith had nothing to worry about after the recent signing of Michael Vick. Yet, Ryan never endorsed Smith as his starter this season at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday. After hearing Ryan talk, there is a good reason why he did not suppport Smith. 

Vick, not Smith, could be New York’s opening day starter.

Ryan was asked if Vick could start in Week 1, and he did not shy away from the impending quarterback controversy. 

"I would say yes," Ryan said. "We want that competition. Again, we’ll let it all play out."

What will play out is a circus of attention which could rival Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez competing for playing time in 2012. 

Ryan was immediately asked who would take the first-team reps during offseason workouts, and the coach knew he started a controversy.

"Oh, my gosh. Here we go. Really?" Ryan said. "I think we do know, but we’ll let it play out. Is it going to be balanced? Is it going to be whatever? I think it’s still early in the process, but there will be a competition there and at every other position."

In other words, Smith is in trouble.

After New York used a second-round pick on Smith in 2013, he emerged as the Jets’ opening day starter. The victory was partially due to Mark Sanchez’s preseason shoulder injury, coupled with Smith’s potential.

Smith struggled throughout his rookie season, throwing 12 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and fumbling eight times (lost four). He was eventually benched, but Ryan believes another competition this offseason will help Smith develop.

"I think competition is good for everybody," Ryan said. "When you look at it, whether you’re a quarterback, a right tackle, or whatever, competition brings out the best in everybody."

Great for Smith, but greater for Ryan.

Jets owner Woody Johnson increased the pressure on Ryan after recently expressing his desire to win now.

“I’m not going to use the word ‘patient’ anymore,” Johnson told reporters on Monday. "We want to do it now."

Ryan agreed to an extension through the 2015 season, and understands he must win this year - or else.

"You guys know me," Ryan said. "My expectations and everything else has never changed. I wanted to win, and I expect to win. I will tell you this, it’s time to deliver. It’s time to deliver for this community, for New York, for this entire area. We’ve got to step up and deliver. I’m not running from it, let’s put it that way."

It explains why Ryan is so excited about Vick, even if he said Smith will be hard to beat.

"He’s [Vick] an unusual guy," Ryan said. "He was unusual when he came out in the league with how athletic he was, but I definitely think you still see that all that athleticism he has. He can still run. Moves well in the pocket. I think he’s more accurate throwing from the pocket than what he used to be. He’s got a big arm and can still run."

And Vick could start for the Jets.

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Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!