- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' quarterback competition is open. No, it's closed. Check that, it's open.
Actually, it depends on who you ask.
Coach Rex Ryan, speaking after Wednesday's OTA practice, contradicted what Vick said last week, insisting there will be true competition for the starting job.
"There is competition, there's no doubt," Ryan said.
Meanwhile, Vick reiterated his stance, claiming, "Nah, it's not an open competition." He made the same comment last week, all but conceding the job to Smith -- a remark that probably didn't sit well with general manager John Idzik, who preaches competition at every position.
Vick apparently was admonished for his candid opinions because, for the most part, he stuck to the company line while speaking to reporters. In a six-minute interview, he gave the same clichéd answer (or a slight variation) seven times.
"I'm here to compete every day to help this team win football games," he said, sticking to the talking points.
Pressed, Vick got frustrated, saying he already answered the question three times. Finally, he acknowledged he doesn't see it as an open competition.
The team responsible for the Butt Fumble is in danger of mishandling a potentially volatile situation. It's probably Smith's job to lose, but team officials haven't characterized it that way. They speak in code phrases, saying they expect Vick to "push" Smith and to compete with the second-year player.
"I've said from Day 1 that I think Geno will be hard to beat out," Ryan said, "but I also said Mike will have an opportunity to compete and he definitely will."
Vick wasn't offered any starting jobs as a free agent, so he signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Jets, reuniting with former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. The Jets probably appealed to him because he knows Smith isn't entrenched as the starter.
"I knew what I was getting into when I got here," said Vick, whom the Jets are hoping can serve as a mentor to Smith. "It's everything I expected. I'm having fun with the guys. Everything is team-oriented. We're just having a good time. We just have to keep everything rolling. That's the most important thing."
Smith wasn't made available to the media.
Vick and Smith are sharing first-team reps in the OTA practices. Teammates recognize Smith as the current starter, although team officials won't characterize it that way.
Ryan said quarterback is "a deep position," adding the competition is "fun to watch."
Asked point blank if Vick will be the Week 1 starter if he outplays Smith in the preseason, Ryan dodged the question.
"I think we'll let it play out a little bit," he said. "It's the second day of OTAs, so it's not a closed competition."
He then laughed.
"I don't mean to make light of it," he continued. "In a way, I should because it's the second day of OTAs and here we have these questions. Let's let it play out."
Ryan said the player who "gives us the best opportunity to win will be the guy." Vick believes a tie would go to Smith, the incumbent who struggled with 21 interceptions last season.
"Let's let it be a tie and we'll see if it's a true statement or not," Ryan said. "Let's let it play out."
2dEric D. Williams
2dMel Kiper Jr.