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Wildcat for Vick? Think again, Rex

NEW YORK -- If Rex Ryan's latest alleged plan to unleash hell on the rest of the NFL by occasionally using Michael Vick as a change-of-pace quarterback in the Wildcat offense hasn't caused seismic reaction around the league, that's because everyone has heard this from the Jets before. They won't believe the Jets will commit to it in a meaningful way until they see it.

And anyway, it would be colossally misguided for Ryan to follow through on it.

One of the crueler business realities about the NFL is that springing the Wildcat on an opposing team is fine if you're running it with an expendable piece like wideout Brad Smith, a converted quarterback who had some success in the role before the Jets let him walk to Buffalo, or even Tim Tebow, who inexplicably never got a shot to carry the ball here.

Even now, if Ryan wants to run the read option with wideout Jeremy Kerley or Bilal Powell, a running back used to taking hits, that's fine. Knock yourself out.

But look around. Is Washington going to run a steady diet of the Wildcat/read option with Robert Griffin III anymore? No.

Should Vick, at age 34? No again.

Vick and Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg ran the Wildcat when Vick backed up Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, and in the past few days they've both admitted that using the gimmick sometimes disrupted the rhythm of the starting quarterback and/or the rest of the offense. McNabb -- the Eagles' starter at the time -- ripped the idea forward, backward and sideways as tough to deal with, and he was a five-time Pro Bowl pick. How much would it bother Jets starter Geno Smith, who has only one year in the league?

"That's real, I think. There's no question about that," Mornhinweg told reporters at the Jets' training camp in Cortland on Tuesday. "However, I know this -- it depends how you do it. I suspect looking forward there will be times where you may see a little bit [of the Wildcat]. There may be times where you don't see much."

Vick, speaking after Thursday's exhibition game, said if he's asked to handle the Wildcat role here, "It's cool. But that disrupts the timing of the offense. 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."

So don't be surprised if it rarely, if ever, happens.

All of this chatter is likely to be just another reminder that every once in a while, Ryan can't help himself. He loves to drift toward the offbeat, the bold, the unconventional. It's part of who he is. Reviving the Wildcat talk is another example of how swaggering Old Rex -- the one who nearly got himself fired -- is creeping back into his language. He seems to get a kick out of telling other teams, this is what we're going to do. See if you can stop us.

Someone should stop Ryan's Wildcat daydreaming first.

Ryan's oft-mentioned claim that making opposing defensive coordinators waste valuable time preparing for the Jets' Wildcat attack gives the Jets an edge is overblown.

Maybe it was true way back when the league wasn't used to the read option. But NFL defenses are used to it now.

Maybe the Wildcat would've been scarier to opponents when Vick was young and at his peak. But one nice 15-yard run in a preseason game the other day by Vick doesn't mean Vick is the same guy who ran a 4.3 second 40-yard dash years ago. And even then, his mind-bending speed wasn't always enough to save him from the sort of devastating hits or injuries that left him unable to play for great swaths of many seasons.

Vick would again be exposed to some serious hits.

He's injury prone.

He's the Jets' only experienced backup behind Smith.

And even Ryan has acknowledged we've seen a variation of the potential risk/reward of foolishly gambling with his quarterback's health just a year ago.

That's when Ryan put Mark Sanchez in harm's way by asking him to play behind a third-string offensive line late in a preseason game with the Giants -- and for what? Sanchez was still competing with Smith for the starting job but hurt his shoulder and missed most of the season.

The Jets were forced to start Smith, then an unproven rookie, on opening day.

Smith is improved so far this preseason, but he's still not a proven NFL quarterback. And Ryan should realize he shouldn't do anything that stunts his development or again leaves the Jets without a credible backup.

But there's yet another good reason Ryan should skip the Wildcat that hasn't been talked about much at all.

Has Ryan actually thought out what could happen if Vick was a smashing success?

That might actually be worse.

Can you imagine the clamor for Vick to start instead of Smith if Vick showed even flashes of his younger self in his Wildcat cameos?

Ryan will have created the full-blown quarterback controversy that the Jets have been so good at defusing since they signed Vick.

They'd have wasted the year they've already invested in Smith. And starting Vick would be only a short-term Band-Aid on something that's been a long-term problem for the Jets. The team has been waiting, wanting, searching for a franchise quarterback for decades now.

So again, why even go there?

Both Smith and Vick have been remarkably good team-first guys since the Jets put them together with the tacit understanding Vick was here to help Smith, even if the more decorated Vick still sees himself as a starter.

Vick has been classy about keeping his word.

So when it comes to using him in the Wildcat, Ryan should just clam up, too.

Forget anyone ever brought it up.