Back in January, Michael Vick was sure he'd be a starting quarterback this season.
"Absolutely," he said, according to CSN Philly. "I can't see no other way."
Something has happened to Vick this offseason, since signing with the Jets. He's a proud athlete, one who has had plenty of success in the NFL. But every single chance he has gotten to talk about his chances of winning the starting job or stir up a controversy with Geno Smith, he has gone out of his way to praise the second-year quarterback.
"He's going to be great," Vick told ESPNNewYork,com. "He's going to be 10 times better than where he was last year, and I'm looking forward to it."
Maybe Vick has decided that undermining Smith by saying he wants to start doesn't help the Jets, and it really doesn't matter what he says anyway because the coaches are going to pick the best player no matter what. Maybe he became comfortable with a new role this offseason, when no team would sign him to be its starter. Perhaps this is just what Vick is content to be for the rest of his career: good teammate and mentor.
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And if the private Vick is anything like the public Vick, then he has been a great teammate for Smith. Smith is coming off a poor rookie season, with 21 interceptions. In the New York market, with a big-name backup like Vick, it was a recipe for a quarterback controversy that boiled all of August.
There has been none of that in Jets camp, in large part because of Vick hasn't let it happen.
The ESPNNewYork.com story said Smith looks more comfortable and confident, but would he be if the 34-year-old Vick was not so supportive of him? By one quick quote pronouncing himself the best quarterback on the roster – remember, seven months ago he felt he would "absolutely" be one of the 32 starting NFL quarterbacks – Vick could create a storm that would take over the NFL headlines and have Smith looking over his shoulder. Instead, he goes out of his way to praise Smith.
"You see guys around the league, around his age, having success and doing good things for their ballclub, and I think he wants to fall right into that echelon," Vick said, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
It really is a big change from the Vick we remember early in his career.
The story said Smith will start the preseason opener as expected, but the Jets plan to have Vick play at least one series with the starters. Because no matter how supportive Vick is, and no matter that the Jets have given Smith every opportunity to win the starting job, coach Rex Ryan would have a hard time going with Smith if Vick outplays him this preseason. So it is a competition still, and Vick could win it with a good August.
You just won't hear him talk about that possibility. It appears Vick is quite comfortable with this new phase of his career.
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