NFL

Jets carry yet another QB controversy into new season

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Ryan Horne, TSN.ca
8/27/2014 6:29:55 PM
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The New York Jets seem to like their controversy, specifically quarterback controversy.

In 2012, much of the Jets' faithful were bargaining for the popular Tim Tebow to get a start behind centre over Mark Sanchez after he led the Denver Broncos on a magical run to the playoffs the previous season. Well, that never happened and Sanchez had his worst year as a pro amid all the controversy resulting in a miserable 6-10 season for New York.

In 2013, the Jets drafted quarterback Geno Smith and he started the entire season - albeit he struggled through a lot of it - after Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury during the preseason. The team managed to put together a .500 record and it was believed Smith would get the ball again in 2014 to continue his progression.

That might still happen, but the 23-year-old will have stiffer competition than Matt Simms for this go-around.

Philadelphia and New York swapped pivots in the off-season as the Eagles signed Sanchez to a contract while the Jets picked up Michael Vick who had fallen out of favour in the city of brotherly love. Not only does Vick bring over a decade of NFL experience, but at one time was one of the most exciting players in the sport.

"I look at him (Vick) as a big brother" Smith said to TSN. "I look at him as the veteran that he is, a guy that can definitely lend a helping hand to us all, all of us younger guys in this locker room. Especially myself, you know, being that he's played in this system and been a quarterback in the NFL for 11 years now. Just learning from him as well as competing with him and us helping one another get better is definitely something that's helping me out."

Even though head coach Rex Ryan, who was signed to an extension through the 2015 season in January, and the Jets have said the job is open for competition, it seems that its Geno's to lose and he'll probably get the Week 1 nod. Vick has also suggested he understands that this is Smith's team and expects to play a backup role this season.

Nevertheless, the 34-year-old Vick should still have plenty left in the tank and if the Jets are struggling early on with Smith racking up the picks like he did last year, the fans will want change and fast. Unless Smith can prove quickly that he's better than the 12 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions he finished with in his rookie campaign, Ryan should expect daily questions regarding his quarterbacks.

Cue the controversy.

The Jets were second worst in the NFL last season in passing yards per game with 183.2 and dead last in passing touchdowns with just 13. Smith - and possibly Vick - will need to improve those numbers considerably if the Jets want a sniff at playoff football.

New York signed wide receiver Erik Decker to a five-year contract during the off-season. The 27-year-old is coming off two stellar seasons in Denver where he played with the great Peyton Manning. Decker almost doubled his numbers when he had Manning throwing him the ball compared to Kyle Orton and Tebow. You have to wonder if he'll be able to put up solid numbers without a stud quarterback.

The Jets have the ninth toughest schedule in the league with an opponents' winning percentage of .520 from last season. Finishing with another 8-8 record might be viewed as a successful year for J-E-T-S in 2014.

Notes

Running Rampant

Running back Chris Johnson will play his inaugural season in New York after spending the first six years of his career with the Tennessee Titans. The 28-year-old's best days are probably behind him, but he's still recorded over 1,000 rushing yards every year in his career and has stayed relatively healthy throughout. With the return of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell alongside the addition of Johnson (who has a knack for breaking out long scoring scampers), the Jets ground game could really be impressive in 2014 which might make up for the lack of passing productivity.

Run Stoppers

The Jets did a great job at stopping the run last year, allowing only 88.2 yards per game, good enough for third-best in the NFL. That part of the game might be getting a boost with the addition of veteran linebacker Jason Babin who signed a two-year contract during the off-season. The 34-year-old is a two-time Pro Bowler and recorded 7.5 sacks with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013.

Rookie Watch

New York, to the surprise of some, drafted hard-hitting free safety Calvin Pryor with their first pick (18th overall) out of Louisville. Many thought they'd go after a talented receiver to help out Smith, but decided to go with the man known as the Louisville Slugger. It will be interesting to see how the youngster pans out, as the Jets have a history of making questionable choices on Draft Day.

Geno Smith Mike Vick (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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