ORLANDO, Fla. - Rex Ryan has thrown the door wide open for a quarterback competition in training camp between incumbent Geno Smith and newly signed Michael Vick. So there's a chance the Jets will have a different starting quarterback the third consecutive year.
Mark Sanchez, Smith . . . and now Vick? Ryan said there's a chance that could happen. Asked Tuesday whether Vick might be the starter opening day, Ryan replied, "I would say yes. We want that competition and we'll let it play out."
But Ryan believes Smith won't concede the job without a fight. "Geno Smith is going to be hard to beat out," Ryan said at the NFL owners' meetings. "I've said that for a long time . . . but it is going to be great competition."
Vick appears ready to try to win the job. "I feel like I'm a legitimate starting quarterback in this league," he said Tuesday in an interview on SNY. "I feel like I can compete with the best of them. I feel like I can win games. Yes, I'm not saying it out of arrogance, just with some mojo.''
Quarterback competitions usually are great theater and often lead to controversy. But Ryan insisted there won't be any controversy, even if a two-man race for the job on a team in the New York area is almost by definition a controversy.
Ryan said Vick's presence can only benefit the Jets. "First off, you're getting a guy that is a proven winner, a dynamic player," Ryan said. "He's going to provide great competition, and I think that's going to be a great thing for us and for Geno.''
So, who takes the first snap of camp?
"Oh, my gosh, here we go. Really?" Ryan said. "I think we do know, but we'll let it play out. I think it's still early, but . . . we feel really good about our quarterback situation."
When asked on SNY about a potential quarterback controversy that could hurt Smith's development, Vick said he wasn't concerned.
"I don't think I should try to prevent that situation from happening because there's going to be bigger situations in Geno's career," Vick said. "Being in a quarterback competition with a guy that as he said 'looked up to' and would enjoy competing with every day, it's not a pressure situation. The pressure comes when you have to go out there and win football games."
Ryan said Vick, 33, still has terrific mobility, and that his skills have improved over time.
"[Vick] is athletic," Ryan said. "He can still run, moves well in the pocket, I think he's more accurate throwing from the pocket. He has a big arm.
"A mobile quarterback I think is harder to defend than maybe a stationary pocket guy. With that said, I'd probably rather defend a mobile quarterback than Peyton Manning or Tom Brady."
Ryan said Vick's experience with Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who was the Eagles' offensive coordinator during Vick's time in Philadelphia, will be a "huge'' boost.
"Now you have both your [quarterbacks] with experience in the system and there's not a learning curve,'' Ryan said. "That's why I think it's going to be great competition."
He doesn't foresee a problem with the quarterbacks getting along, regardless of who starts.
"We have two guys that do a tremendous job," Ryan said. "They do a great job and you're sitting back going, in an ideal situation, 'Well, they both earned the job.' Vick has played a lot of games under Marty's direction. All of his experience will be good, but I think everybody's going to be surprised at where Geno's at."