Nonetheless, Vick seemed in line for another start in Week 13. The plan changed Wednesday as the Jets announced that Geno Smith would reclaim his starting job, perhaps the final piece of evidence that Rex Ryan's days in New York are numbered.
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"I just think that it gives us a chance," said Ryan when he named Vick his starter prior to Week 9. "When Mike came in the game, I thought that it did give us a spark, I felt the energy on the sideline. I think given an opportunity that he really hasn’t been given, to run with the first team all week, we’ll see how it plays out."
Briefly, the plan appeared to have worked. The Jets lost Vick's first start (at Kansas City) but turned around to upset the Steelers, with Vick showing some flashes of his former self.
The positive outlook changed in a heartbeat in that 35-point defeat Monday, in which Vick finished 7-of-19 for 76 yards and an interception before handing over the reins to Smith in the third quarter.
Ryan has said repeatedly that he believes Smith can make it in the NFL, but the clear choice by Ryan in the present was to give Vick an extended look. So sending the younger Smith back onto the field certainly has an air of looking ahead to 2015. By that time, Ryan likely will be coaching in some capacity elsewhere, so it is relatively safe to assume that either embattled GM John Idzik or owner Woody Johnson forced Ryan's hand at the quarterback position.
And in reality, dropping Smith under center for the season's final five weeks does make the most sense for the Jets, who are sitting at 2-9.
The 34-year-old Vick opened his Jets career seemingly content with serving as Smith's backup, even admitting after a clunky relief appearance in Week 5 that he was not ready to play. He is a shell of his former, electrifying self and is set to hit free agency again at the end of the 2014 season.
In other words, there is no future for him in New York. Even though the win over Pittsburgh was a moment of relief for the struggling franchise, nabbing another victory or two with Vick at the helm does nothing to improve the Jets' chances in 2015 and beyond.
Smith may not move the needle much, either. The soon-to-come coaching change, not to mention the possibility of Idzik being removed as GM, could lead to a complete overhaul on offense. The first move after many coaching/GM changes is to look outside the organization for quarterback help, in hopes of finding someone custom-fitted to the new scheme.
So Smith, 24, figures to head into training camp next summer at least battling for his job, if he even remains on the roster.
He should have been forced to earn the starting spot in training camp prior to this season, rather than having those duties handed to him as Vick settled in as the No. 2 guy. The change from Smith to Vick then came too late for any real good to come of it -- at 1-7 when Vick was named the starter, the Jets were already long gone in the playoff race.
Going back to Smith now is a mere rearrangement of Titanic deck chairs, a mostly cosmetic move that will not save Ryan's job and should not save Idzik's.
This remains a team in need of a drastic upgrade before it can be competitive again. The fix is not to be found in either Smith or Vick at the moment.