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Some Thoughts on the "Open" Quarterback Competition

Mike Ehrmann

For some time now, Rex Ryan and Michael Vick keep going back and forth on whether or not the quarterback competition between Vick and Geno Smith is "open" or not. Ryan, for his part, keeps insisting it will be an open competition and both players will be competing, although Smith "will be hard to beat out." Vick, on the other hand, says it isn't open but that it's still a competition and that he'll be pushing Smith, even though he's presuming Smith will be the starter.

So the controversy seems to be over the word "open" and what it means in this context (thankfully we aren't trying to define the word "is"). Everyone agrees that there will be a competition of some sort, and some people are making, in my opinion, too big a deal over the word "open," in that they're construing what Ryan and Vick to be saying as polar opposites. They're in effect creating a controversy where there doesn't seem to be any.

Reading between the lines, I suspect what Vick was told is that he will be able to compete for the job, but all else being equal, they will go with Smith to start the season. That is, if both quarterbacks play equally, they'll give the job to the younger guy, the guy with long-term potential. But it will still be a competition in that if Vick clearly beats Smith, Vick will be given the job. Despite that, neither Ryan nor Vick seem to think this is a likely scenario, suggesting that Smith will rise up and win the job on his own.

As Dennis Waszak noted today, Vick doesn't seem upset about this. He isn't trying to stir up dissension and he wasn't misled about what his role will be. His issue seems to be with the other more literal interpretation of "open" that seems like it's being forced on him by outsiders, that is, that going into training camp it could go either way, between Smith and him. It's not; the scale is weighted towards Smith. But that doesn't make it any less than a competition, even if it's not truly "open" in the sense some might think.