Not a word that came out of Michael Vick's mouth Monday could be construed as lobbying for the Jets' starting job at quarterback. With Geno Smith struggling to the point where more than a few Jets fans chanted "We want Vick!" during Sunday's loss to the Lions, Vick understands there is nothing to be gained by injecting himself into the equation with even a remote hint of a put-me-in-coach message to Rex Ryan.
If anything, Vick was quick to offer some helpful advice for Smith, who is now at a major crossroads after three straight losses and a salty postgame exchange with some fans.
"I think it's just about believing in what you see, doing the things that you know," Vick said. "Stay patient, but at the same time, demand more out of yourself. I think Geno understands there are certain things we have to do to make sure we gain some consistency in our offense and be productive and score more points. As a quarterback, we always tell our teammates that it starts with us as far as setting the tone. You can set the tone just by being consistent in your play and being confident."
Consistency and confidence aren't two words you'd associate with Smith right now. After a reasonably solid performance in a Week 1 win, Smith's game has deteriorated during the three-game losing streak with just three touchdown passes, four interceptions and two lost fumbles. Ryan is sticking with Smith this week, but another bad performance and he might turn to Vick to spark the offense.
It's a complicated decision for the coach, if for no other reason than he needs to juggle several factors. Though Ryan believes that Smith has the mettle to be an effective quarterback, he also needs to make sure Smith doesn't drown in the kind of chaos now swirling around the team. It's one thing to be patient with young quarterbacks; it's another to throw them a lifeline when they are clearly overmatched and in need of a respite. Ryan doesn't believe Smith is there just yet, but another subpar performance or two, and it might happen.
Adding a potential complication is the team's collective thought process that goes into any decision about the quarterback. Whereas some teams provide the coach with full autonomy over all personnel decisions on game day, Ryan works closely with general manager John Idzik, who obviously has a rooting interest to see that Smith, his second-round pick from last year, develops and is afforded every chance to blossom. A quick-fix move to Vick might mean a win or two in the short term, but could cost Smith valuable time in the formative stages of his career.
And Vick himself isn't certain he can rescue the Jets.
"I don't know," he said. "I'm only one person. I can't answer your question until I actually go out there and play three or four games, and then maybe then we could talk about it. As of right now, I can't say I'll be the difference-maker. Am I confident I can fulfill my job and do what I'm supposed to do? Yeah, because I always feel that way. But you never know until you're out there."
Going to Vick isn't a no-brainer. Consider: In his last 30 games with the Eagles from 2011-13, Vick had 27 interceptions and 25 fumbles. In 20 career games, Smith has 26 interceptions and 12 fumbles.
Whoever plays quarterback, Vick hopes to see a repeat of what happened the last time his team got off to a 1-3 start. The 2013 Eagles recovered to make the playoffs, although Nick Foles did the heavy lifting after Vick was injured.
Vick hopes Smith can be the one to battle his way through the adversity. "He has to live through this," Vick said. "He has to fight through this. It's a situation that we've all been put in, so hopefully it's a positive mindset and hopefully he'll be ready to go this week."
If not, Vick might get his turn after all.