CORTLAND, N.Y. - Rex Ryan isn't so sure Geno Smith needed a little push this offseason. But the arrival of Michael Vick certainly hasn't hurt the young quarterback's development, the Jets coach said.
Before Vick signed in March, Smith was determined to improve his physique and football skills. After his lackluster performance Saturday in the Green and White scrimmage, the second-year man is expecting better decision-making and better plays from himself and his teammates in their preseason opener against the Colts.
Smith rattled off a laundry list of things he expects to see Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, but he expressed his ultimate goal in just one word.
"Execution,'' he said. "It's always about execution. It's always about us doing the right things on the field. And we want to execute to the best of our ability. We want to be sharp mentally, be sharp physically, be accurate, be smart with the reads and get good plays.''
Ryan is anxious to see how well Smith can run the offense. "And I want to see some production, too,'' Ryan quickly added.
Their scrimmage Saturday featured zero touchdown drives by Smith or Vick. The offense, as expected, has been lagging behind the defense for much of camp. But Ryan is confident the unit will put up points against the Colts.
"I think we'll see it,'' he said. "I know we'll have the command, so let's have some production. I'm excited about it. Shoot, no different than our fans. I know our fans are going to be excited about it. Let's see where this team's at.''
Ryan said Smith and the rest of the starters will play into the second quarter. Asked whether Vick will get first-team reps, he said: "Probably so. I'd say there's a good chance of that.''
Third-stringer Matt Simms will relieve Vick, followed by seventh-round pick Tajh Boyd.
The game can't come soon enough for his players, especially the guys on defense. Asked Monday how anxious he is to hit someone other than his teammates, lineman Muhammad Wilkerson said, "Oh, I can't wait. I'm ready. I'm ready to get after it.''
While plenty of eyes will be on high-profile newcomers Eric Decker and Chris Johnson, Jets fans will be most interested in how Smith fares coming out of the gate.
"Physically, [I'm] bigger and stronger,'' he said. "The mental side of it, I'm not thinking as much, not swimming as much. I have a better grasp of the offense. Really, just understanding my surroundings a lot better.
"Ultimately, it's about proving it on the field, going out there Thursday night and being sharp and have a good showing. Once the season comes around, making winning plays, and giving us a shot to win every game.''
The decision to sign Vick as a free agent was viewed as a win-win internally. Not only would the 34-year-old serve as competition for Smith, but he has the credentials and experience with the Eagles in Marty Mornhinweg's offense to lead the Jets if need be.
"You have Mike Vick come in here, you better be on top of your game. And obviously, Geno is,'' Ryan said. "Whether he needed Mike Vick to be here or not, I'm not sure. But probably not, 'cause I know Geno wants it in the worst way to be a quarterback. And so the preparation he did in the offseason, he did it.
"But certainly, you have Mike Vick in there, that does push him. They're really good together. That whole group of quarterbacks, they back each other up, but they push each other, they challenge each other. And I think that's a great thing for us.''