In the midst of organized team activities and minicamps across the NFL, much of the discussion focuses on -- surprise, surprise -- quarterbacks. Specifically, quarterback competitions. And two teams have taken center stage in this capacity: the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles.
On Wednesday, Rex Ryan admitted that the Jets aren't even close to picking a winner between Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith. Meanwhile, Chip Kelly implored writers to stop asking about the Eagles' QB depth chart, with Michael Vick and Nick Foles splitting first-team reps.
It's no contest: Eagles' situation infinitely more enticingThe Jets are a curiosity, an accident at the side of the road that everyone slows down to watch. The Eagles are far more intriguing because they have the offensive talent to contend this year.
The Jets are running an offense with Philadelphia's leftover offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, under a head coach (Rex Ryan) who has shown he has no clue how to coach offense. The Eagles have two talented options and a coach (Chip Kelly) who directed one of the most exciting offenses at any level of football over the last few years. This is not a contest.
Vick vs. Foles is a classic bout; Smith better served starting on the benchThe Eagles' QB battle will be much more interesting. The dynamic Michael Vick has always represented big-play potential at the QB position, but Chip Kelly is looking for someone to take care of the football, make great decisions and get the ball into the hands of the other skill players. Nick Foles will push Vick in this capacity, and the second-year man certainly has the big arm to keep up with Vick and his deep throws.
The Jets' QB position is irrelevant, simply because there isn't much to work with offensively on that roster. Geno Smith would benefit more from having Mark Sanchez start the season. Then, if Sanchez continues to turn the ball over at the prolific rate that he has over the past two seasons, Smith gets to come in as the savior.
Gang Green's battle is the league's most compellingI view the New York Jets' quarterback situation as the most compelling competition in the league. Mark Sanchez has regressed as a playmaker over the past few seasons. Additionally, he has seemingly lost the confidence and respect of his teammates through poor play and a perceived lack of commitment, making it hard for him to act as the leader of the team.
Geno Smith, on the other hand, has been diligently working since arriving shortly after going 39th in the 2013 NFL Draft. He has impressed coaches with his blue-collar approach, which naturally earns the respect of teammates. On the field, Smith has made strides as a passer and shown promise transitioning from a spread offense to a pro-style system. If he can continue to progress throughout the preseason, he will not only push Sanchez for the gig, but he should win the job by season's end.
Questions abound in Philly, generating maximum interestI think the Eagles have the most intriguing QB battle -- by far. You have so many different elements. Not only is there a new coach, but questions abound in terms of what type of system he might run. Chip Kelly comes from the college ranks, completely lacking in pro experience -- how will that factor in? How much read-option will Philly run? Can Michael Vick stay healthy? How will Vick do in the West Coast-style passing game of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur? If Nick Foles is the QB, how much read-option do we see then? If he runs it, will he be successful when he keeps the ball? Foles is entering his second year, but he is learning a new offense -- will this slow down his development? Then you have the rookie, Matt Barkley. He could have been a first-round pick a year ago, but the Eagles took him in the fourth round in April, despite the fact that they already had two QBs who started games for them last year. Is Barkley's arm strong enough? What kind of offense do you run with him? He is not a threat as a runner -- how does that play into the read-option offense?
I know Kelly says he will build his offense around his talent, but you have to have a base offense to build off. I can't believe Kelly will abandon the read-option completely.
Do you prefer genuine intrigue or train-wreck television?Well, it all depends on what strikes your fancy. The Eagles' situation is rather intriguing because, when Chip Kelly was hired, Michael Vick looked like he would benefit greatly from the system. So the fact that Nick Foles is even in the conversation raises a few eyebrows. That is intriguing.
But there are also people who enjoy good train-wreck television. The set watching Andy Cohen's show on Bravo or Showtime's "Gigolos." And that set is me, because, yes, I watch both shows. Similarly, I only pay attention to the Jets for this train-wreck factor. (Because really, what other reason is there?)
Jets' QB competition is the story of the summerBoth of these competitions are actually settled, but it won't be public for a while. Michael Vick and Geno Smith will be under center in Week 1 for their respective teams. In Philadelphia, Chip Kelly most likely wants his own QB to run his system, but that guy really wasn't available to him this offseason. So he's toeing the line of whether or not to publicly believe in Vick until he feels comfortable enough to do so. And as long as Smith doesn't throw up all over himself over the next couple months, he'll get the nod in New York.
But really, this question isn't even close. The Eagles' quarterback battle is already being met with mild interest, and from a distance. "Vick is ahead of Foles right now? That's nice. Ooh, I wonder what people are blogging about 'Game of Thrones!' " Whereas in New York, you have two lightning rods in Mark Sanchez and Smith. The Jets have become the new Dallas Cowboys, in that everything they do is news. Every pass the two players throw is already being scrutinized. Every sound bite, agent firing and bandana choice is under the microscope. Forget about this being the biggest story between these two teams -- the Jets quarterback battle will be THE story of the summer. I guess that makes Sanchez a Lannister and Smith a Stark.