Why Alex Smith to the Jets Makes Sense
The Mark Sanchez era in New York has to be done. The Jets owe him $8 million in guaranteed cash in 2013, but it’s time to move on. The Arizona Cardinals have the same issue with Kevin Kolb, but both teams need to do the right thing. Tim Tebow will be cut or traded, and Greg McElroy will probably prove in the next two weeks that he’s not a viable starter. That means the Jets will be looking to add quarterbacks in 2013, whether it be via the draft or free agency.
My guess is they use both, with Michael Vick and Alex Smith leading the pack in free agency, while it’s anyone’s guess who and where they target in the 2013 NFL Draft. But when it comes down to Vick and Smith, I’m firmly standing behind Smith, and it’s not even close.
The Jets, if Rex Ryan doesn’t get canned, will yet again be built around the same philosophy – play elite defense and control the clock with an effective rushing attack. Darrelle Revis will be back, they can add/replace some pieces in free agency in the draft, and they could even upgrade at running back and wide receiver. But the thing worth noting is how they reached the AFC title game two years in a row in 2009 and 2010.
It wasn’t because Mark Sanchez was an elite quarterback or because they had the best offense. It was because Sanchez didn’t make the mistakes he’s been making the past two years, and the defense and running game held up their end of the bargain. The defense wasn’t elite this year (losing Revis didn’t help), but it wasn’t awful. Same with the rushing attack. But Sanchez didn’t live up on his end, and last week’s five-turnover debacle was a perfect example.
So, the answer to this problem is to bring in another passer (Vick) that has struggled immensely with taking care of the football in 2012? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make much sense.
I know Vick is a special talent even at 32, but his downside now out-weighs his upside. Alex Smith, on the other hand, while not a sexy option, is what Mark Sanchez was trying to be and was supposed to be, but never really could be.
Smith doesn’t have a huge arm, but he also doesn’t make too many silly mistakes, is fairly accurate, and has a trip to an NFC title game on his resume. In fact, he wasn’t replaced by Colin Kaepernick this year because he wasn’t playing well. It was because of injury. Smith went down in the midst of a two-game span where he incompleted just two passes, and currently sits on a 70% completion percentage for the year. The 49ers were 6-2 and atop the NFC West when he last played, and he probably was gearing up for a second straight run at a Super Bowl.
The Jets have been a misguided franchise for years now. I don’t think Rex Ryan is the problem. I think Mike Tannenbaum is. From Brett Favre to Tim Tebow, the moves this team has made have been questionable to say the least, and arguably for all the wrong reasons.
Bringing in Vick will appease the fans with some star power. He might even get the Jets off to a hot start. Heck, he might even get them back to the playoffs. But he’s fragile and wilts under pressure. He’s also not that electric player we all saw some to life in 2010. He’s damaged goods, and it’s going to take an elite offensive line and a slew of great weapons in the passing game if he’ll have a chance to get back to who he was a couple years ago.
Smith is what he is. He’s an accurate pocket passer with a good head on his shoulders that makes the right decision and let’s his rushing attack and defense live to fight another day. In 2012, Smith has had one game with more than one interception, while losing one fumble. Vick had three multi-interception games, along with five lost fumbles. They have different offensive lines and different systems, but Smith simply took care of the football better and made better decisions.
The same can be said about their 2011 numbers, too. Smith threw just five interceptions a year ago, while completing over 61% of his passes. Vick tossed 14 picks, and completed just over 59.8% of his passes.
Over the past two years, Smith has been built back up and molded into a true game manager who can make the necessary clutch play when called upon. He’ll be eager to answer his next team’s call after being benched, as well. Vick, on the other hand, has been broken down, physically and mentally. A fresh start elsewhere could do him some good, but he has four years on Smith, is less accurate, more vulnerable to injury, and has not developed as hoped as a pocket passer.
The popular vote will be for the Jets to trade for or sign (if released) Michael Vick. I get that, but I won’t encourage or promote it. Alex Smith is a winner and more suited to step into New York and pull off what Mark Sanchez couldn’t. Now we just have to wait and see if the Jets are smart enough to do finally do something that’s good for their team.