Jets: Who Wins in This QB Swap?

Updated: March 27, 2014
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Within a matter of days the Eagles and Jets just signed QBs from each other’s rosters so essentially they traded Michael Vick for Mark Sanchez. Who do you think comes out ahead in this deal?

Two QBs with uncertain futures, one-time golden boys, both with baggage. There’s dog-fighting and there’s The Butt-Fumble. This deal all comes down to what you’re looking for out of it and what you do with them.

Courtesy of Anne Disdier

Michael Vick…you think electric talent, other-worldly running ability and a cannon for an arm. That’s what he’s known for. Now that he’s been in the league for 11 years, the body of work says the following:

  • Playing this year at 34, Vick has lost some of his dynamic quickness and has become more susceptible to injury. He’s played 16 games in a season just once in his career.
  • He has a career QB rating of 81, a completion ratio of 56%, and his career best is 3,300  passing yards in a season; Vick has had several brilliant stretches but let’s just say his overall production has been far from elite.
  • Vick matured as a QB and played his best statistical football during his recent incarnation with the Eagles under the tutelage of current Jets OC Marty Mornhinweg.

Vick can help tutor Geno Smith in Mornhinweg’s offense but that’s not why you bring him to the Jets…that’s Mornhinweg’s job. You bring him to the Jets because you think Geno Smith is either not ready or not good enough, and Mornhinweg knows Vick’s game. You want to see if Vick is an upgrade.

This move is so Jets. It’s high-visibility, back-page-worthy. It could possibly be worth a couple more wins this year but it won’t solve anything. Unfortunately at this stage of his career Michael Vick isn’t anyone’s long-term answer at QB. One thing we can pretty much bet on, neither Geno nor Vick will start 16 games for the 2014 Jets…if Vick starts history says he’ll go down at some point…if Geno starts he’ll struggle at some point and be replaced by Vick.

And then there’s Mark Sanchez. No matter what he can only be helped by getting out of New York. He has not been particularly well handled…the coddling, questionable coaching. But as for his work ethic, no one would confuse him with Peyton Manning. From Day One he seemed to break Bill Parcells’ rule, “Don’t be a celebrity quarterback”.

Everyone seems to agree that Sanchez has the physical tools, the arm, the mobility, maybe even the leadership of an NFL QB. He’s even had success in the playoffs. The questions have been about his decision-making, ball protection and understanding of the commitment required in the NFL.

However the Eagles aren’t looking for a starting QB right now. Sanchez has the luxury of coming in purely as a backup and learning. Chip Kelly’s offenses and coaching have been very good to QBs. The Eagles are a much better choice for Sanchez’ long term development than a situation where he could compete for a starting job now. Getting out of New York, big plus…finding a good, non-pressure situation to learn, another big plus. A surprisingly mature decision for his career, there’s a possibility he may yet become “the Sanchise”.

So who wins in this trade? I want to say both teams get what they want…the Eagles get a competent backup who could yet develop into a starting-caliber NFL QB for about zero investment. The Jets get some of that star power and attention that they crave, and they hedge their bets on Geno Smith as QB for a year or two.

But another side of me looks at this another way…Chip Kelly appears to be a smarter football man and a different-thinking guy than virtually anyone, even in the NFL. He’s innovative and so far he’s been pretty darned right. As for the Jets on this same front…let’s be kind and leave it alone. I’m betting on this working out much better for Kelly and the Eagles.

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