Geno Smith won't get free pass with Michael Vick around

Jets QBs Michael Vick and Geno Smith watch Jets QBs Michael Vick and Geno Smith watch during the team's first day of minicamp at their training facility in Florham Park, N.J. on June 17, 2014. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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If everything goes smoothly in Jets training camp, Geno Smith will be where he left off at the end of his rookie season.

Smith will play like the quarterback who won three of his last four games, not the one who threw interception after interception earlier in the season.

He will glean valuable pearls of wisdom from backup Michael Vick, and the Jets will look brilliant for bringing in the 34-year-old veteran to be his backup.

And by the time the season opens, Smith will have the confidence, skills and mindset to lead the Jets deep into the playoffs -- and Vick will be content with his supporting role.

There's only one problem with this scenario. When, exactly, was the last time everything went smoothly for the Jets before the season opener?

The Jets, who will report to SUNY Cortland for camp on Wednesday, haven't exactly been graceful when it comes to managing quarterback competitions in the past (ie. Mark Sanchez's injury last year). Never mind that the team is trying to make it as easy as possible for Smith to hold on to his starting spot, with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg maintaining that he will get "70 to 75 percent'' of the reps. If Vick clearly outplays Smith in the preseason, things quickly could get complicated.

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Jets owner Woody Johnson has made it clear that he's not satisfied with finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs, as the team did last year. And though Vick repeatedly has told reporters that it is not an "open competition,'' Johnson has predicted that there will be a genuine competition for the starting job.

"I don't think Michael Vick is resigned to anything,'' Johnson said. "I think Michael Vick is a born competitor, [and] like most of the people in this locker room will compete on everything. So I wouldn't take it at face value.''

Of course, the pseudo-quarterback competition isn't the only story line in Cortland this summer. The Jets do seem to be in a better position than they were 12 months ago, when Rex Ryan appeared to be a lame-duck coach under first-year general manager John Idzik. Now Ryan has a short contract extension and more talent at his disposal, especially on offense, as Idzik was uncharacteristically aggressive in free agency, signing Vick, wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Chris Johnson.

The immediate challenge will be to integrate the new players into Mornhinweg's offense and define their roles.

Decker instantly should become the team's No. 1 receiver, but Johnson's adjustment could take more time; he is recovering from knee surgery and could be on a modified practice schedule. The Jets also have two capable backs in Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, so they need to use training camp to come up with a backfield plan for the regular season.

Another offensive addition to watch is tight end Jace Amaro, the team's No. 2 pick. Amaro should back up starter Jeff Cumberland but could see plenty of time in that role if he can get up to speed in the Jets' offense.

The defense should be strong as usual, but there is some concern about the young, no-name secondary now that Antonio Cromartie has departed. Second-year cornerback Dee Milliner and the team's first-round draft pick, safety Calvin Pryor, should be in the opening day lineup, but nothing beyond that is set.

There does seem to be an upbeat aura around the Jets, especially after the way they finished the season last year.

Smith said in minicamp, "Obviously, there is a big difference with just the way that we've jelled. Having a second year in this offense and a better understanding of what's required of us and the way to get in and out of routes, the timing of the offense, all those little subtle details that really takes time to develop. Once we get out there against an opposing defense and play another 16 games, we'll be able to measure just how much we're improved.''

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