Rex Ryan rolling the dice by starting Michael Vick at quarterback in Week 9
And next week ... who knows. Does it even matter?
Ryan announced Monday that the 1-7 Jets will start Vick in Kansas City next week, despite another miserable relief effort by the veteran quarterback in Week 8. After Smith threw three interceptions on Sunday, Vick closed out the Jets' loss to Buffalo with an interception and four fumbles (two of which the Bills recovered).
Yet, Ryan said he "felt the energy" on his team's bench when Vick went into the game. And so, in what amounts to trying to stop a runaway train by lying down on the tracks, Ryan will make a quarterback switch.
"This is not looking long-term," Ryan said. "This is about the immediate."
In reality, there is no other way to look at a switch to Vick. The 34-year-old Vick, who is years removed from being a dominant NFL player, stands little chance of being the Jets' long-term answer at quarterback. Heck, he could hit free agency when this season is over and wrap his career in another destination.
Smith, who is 10 years Vick's junior and in just his second NFL season, hypothetically still could turn the corner at some point in the future. Ryan even added Monday that the franchise still sees Smith as a viable franchise quarterback down the road.
But all the evidence presented thus far suggests otherwise.
Save for the occasional blip of promise (see: Week 7 at New England), Smith has been an error-prone mess as the Jets' starter. They made it to 8-8 last season almost in spite of him -- he threw 21 interceptions to just 12 touchdowns. And now that the team's record has turned south, Smith's shortcomings are even more noticeable.
"He was just eyeing down receivers," Bills rookie linebacker Preston Brown said, according to the New York Post. "We saw it on film that he was just staring guys down. When we know if you do that we’re going to jump on guys’ routes, and we got some picks in the back-end with just reading his eyes."
Picking Smith at No. 30 overall in the 2013 draft might be the backfiring move most pointed to if and when Ryan and GM John Idzik lose their posts. A fresh start may pay dividends for Smith, too -- Ryan is far from an offensive guru.
But a future in which Smith is a competent NFL player does little to help Ryan fight for his job now. While Vick might not bring much more support, he cannot be much worse.
Idzik signed Decker this offseason, under the impression that if a Smith-led offense could carry its weight behind a typically stingy Ryan defense, the Jets could break their playoff drought. Neither side has met expectations, with the offense marooned near the bottom of the league and the defense slipping far down the leaderboard, as well. An ongoing seven-game losing skid has been no fluke.
What is there left to do, then, but toss Vick into the lineup and hope for a spark? Ryan may as well roll the dice a bit at this point. Even with a miracle run over the second half of the season, he's unlikely to keep his job.
His focus falls on the "immediate" -- and on Michael Vick -- because the future is murky at best.