By David F. Cohen
Michael Vick may be conceding Geno Smith will be the Jets’ opening day starter against the Raiders on Sept. 7 — being politically correct never hurts — but believes if he gets the chance, he can take the Jets where they haven’t been in 45 years.
“I just feel like I can help any football team, any organization, particularly this football team, get to a Super Bowl,” Vick told the New York Daily News on Thursday. “It’s tough at this stage of my career because I still feel like I’m a fairly young player and I can still keep up. People make it seem like I’m getting older and things are not the same. I beg to differ.”
He will be 34 on June 26, gets hurt too much and fumbles too much, but at this point he’s significantly better than Smith, who improved the last month of his rookie season when he started using his legs, but otherwise really didn’t inspire much confidence he is the future.
Vick is still an explosive, dynamic player — in spurts. If he can sustain it, why can’t Vick do for the Jets what Kurt Warner did for the Cardinals in 2008? The NFL is so balanced, it doesn’t take much to emerge as a Super Bowl contender.
“Kurt was blessed with unbelievable talent and uncanny intelligence,” Vick said. “That helped him get to where he was. Most important, the Arizona Cardinals believed in him. People just got to believe in you. They gave him a shot. He got his opportunity and he took advantage of it.”
Of course, Warner had Larry Fitzgerald and Antoine Boldin at wide receiver. The Jets have upgraded their skill players in the offseason with wide receiver Eric Decker, running back Chris Johnson and rookie tight end Jace Amaro. Vick says in the past his teams didn’t have it together in all three phases to help him get to the Super Bowl.
Vick received his second chance when the Eagles signed him in 2009 after he was released from jail following the dogfighting scandal. He missed the ’07 and ’08 seasons and the Falcons cut him. He says he was given a “second chance in life,” not just in football. His trouble, he says, is way behind him.
Now when people talk about Vick, it’s usually all about football.
“Thank God,” he said.
“I think Geno is going to be the starter. I think he is going to start this season off,” Vick said. “I think Geno has every opportunity to go out and have success. He is going to get that opportunity.”
The NFL is filled with stories about quarterbacks presumed finished who instead catch a second or third wind. There’s Warner, of course. Chad Pennington led the Dolphins to the AFC East championship in 2008 after the Jets dumped him when they traded for Brett Favre. After one disappointing season with the Jets, Favre almost led the Vikings to the Super Bowl in 2009.
If Vick clearly outplays Smith in practice at Cortland and in the preseason games, Rex Ryan will lose his credibility in the locker room if he sticks with Smith. That’s presuming he doesn’t put Vick in cold in the fourth quarter of the preseason game against the Giants. Last summer, Eagles coach Chip Kelly let Vick and Nick Foles fight it out in training camp and then picked Vick.
Vick lost the job when he injured his hamstring, and Foles went on to throw 27 TD passes, just two INTs and led the Eagles to the NFC East title.
If Vick can beat out Foles, he can beat out Smith — if Ryan gives him the chance.