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Saturday, August 9, 2014
Jets mull Wildcat for Michael Vick

By Rich Cimini
ESPN.com

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets, who came under heavy criticism two years ago for misusing Tim Tebow, could be mulling a special package of plays for their new mobile backup quarterback, Michael Vick.

Rex Ryan didn't rule out the possibility of deploying Vick as a change-of-pace quarterback -- assuming Geno Smith is the starter, that is.

"You're trying to win the game," Ryan said Saturday. "If you think that's the best thing for your team, then absolutely you'll consider it."

Michael Vick
Jets coach Rex Ryan said the team will consider using backup quarterback Michael Vick in Wildcat formations this season.

Saturday's practice had a 2012 aura to it, as the Jets ran an entire period of Wildcat plays. This time, they did it with several hundred spectators in attendance. It wasn't a clandestine session, as they did with Tebow on one particularly infamous day in training camp. The entire Tebow experiment backfired, causing embarrassment for the organization.

At 34, Vick still is a dynamic runner, as he showed with a 15-yard scramble in the preseason opener, but the potential downside is the injury risk. He's played a full 16 games only once in 11 years. The Jets lost Mark Sanchez to a season-ending shoulder injury last preseason against the New York Giants, so Ryan is mindful of the risk.

"I'm probably a little more aware of it than I was before," Ryan said, adding, "It wasn't like Michael Strahan was out there, so I thought it would be all right, but it does make you think a little bit. Obviously, you're going to grow through your experiences."

Ryan, who has long been a proponent of the Wildcat, called Vick a "special talent." In theory, they could use him a variety of ways, particularly in the Wildcat (that would mean Smith is on the field, too) or as a read-option quarterback. The Jets used a lot of read-option plays last season with Smith.

But this could be gamesmanship as well, a way to keep opponents guessing. Just last week, Ryan downplayed the idea of making Vick a change-of-pace quarterback, joking, "It never worked out great the last time we did it" -- a Tebow reference.

As for Saturday's intensive Wildcat session, Ryan said the period was planned before camp started, claiming, "It made no difference who was here. We did it last year."

Vick, who told ESPN.com in June that he "revolutionized the game" for mobile quarterbacks, is the all-time leading rusher at the position with 5,857 yards. Teammate Calvin Pace said he'd like to see Vick on the field.

"It's good, it's Mike Vick," the veteran linebacker said. "Anytime you see that name on the back of the jersey, as a defensive player you're aware of what he could do with his legs, also with his arm. It puts pressure on the defense. It's the same thing with guys like RG III [Robert Griffin III], any of the mobile guys. Defensively, they scare us more than a guy who's going to sit back in the pocket. A guy who's running around, he puts a change of pace element in the game that you can't prepare for. He can take a broken play and take it 80 (yards)."

Smith is no slouch, either, as he led the Jets with six rushing touchdowns last season. But Vick is a rare athlete. Right now, he's clearly behind Smith on the depth chart. As much as he'd like to play, Vick hasn't campaigned for a change-of-pace role.

"It's cool, but that disrupts the timing of the offense," he said Thursday night. "I think it has to be done at the right time. I experienced that in Philadelphia with Donovan [McNabb] at times. You want to let the quarterback get into a rhythm and try not to do too much. I think that's doing too much. When the time calls for it, then I think the coaches will see fit that that's put in."