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NY Jets signing of Michael Vick shows owner Woody Johnson is growing impatient


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ORLANDO — Woody Johnson has shifted into a win-now mind-set by saying he will no longer talk about being patient, which explains why the Jets signed Michael Vick to compete with Geno Smith rather than giving Smith the 2014 season to see if he’s the future.


Even so, the Jets had enough concerns about Vick’s past — he spent 18 months in prison for dogfighting — that Johnson revealed Sunday he’d had a long conversation with Roger Goodell to basically get a character reference as the Jets did their homework before signing Vick to a one-year, $5 million deal Friday. Goodell knows Vick well from their conversations before he reinstated him in 2009 and Johnson said "in terms of the person, he was very, very supportive."


Vick will soon be 34, he fumbles too much, he gets hurt too much, he runs too much, but after investing four years in Mark Sanchez as the starter without challenging him, the Jets don’t want to have their season blow up if Smith flops.


So, with Vick as proof, Johnson is no longer asking the fans to sit tight and wait for Smith and this team to develop. Not at these PSL prices.


“I’m not going to use the word patient anymore,” he said Sunday at the NFL meetings. “We want to do it now. Our job is to perform for our audience. That’s what we want to do. In today’s league, look at the difference between last year and this year. A team can turn very, very fast in the NFL. I saw Seattle. I’ve seen a lot of teams that came from the bottom or weren’t doing that well to winning Super Bowls. It’s there and I think we’re trying to put ourselves in position to accomplish those objectives.”


Of course, there are inconsistencies in Johnson’s proclamation. If the Jets truly were all-in for 2014, they would have brought back Darrelle Revis rather than letting him sign with the Patriots, or not let the Giants outbid them for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie when their biggest need is cornerback and they had more than enough cap room to get a deal done.


JoJohnson says he doesn’t want to be 8-8 again because that means the Jets will be out of the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Does he think the Jets will get into the playoffs this season?


“I certainly hope so,” he said.


It’s not unusual, of course, for a team to draft a young quarterback to compete with a veteran or bring in a veteran to be a mentor for a young quarterback. But what the Jets are doing with Smith and Vick is somewhat out of the ordinary. Teams don’t often bring in a veteran who has every intention of starting to compete with a second-year quarterback who started every game his rookie season.


That’s a clear indication the Jets are far from sold on Smith.


Atlhough Johnson said they have “a lot of hope for Geno,” he didn’t anoint him as the starter.

“No, you kind of let it play out and see what happens,” he said.


This is going to be an interesting summer at training camp in Cortland.


Johnson, meanwhile, also consulted with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie before signing off on Vick. When the Eagles signed Vick in 2009 after he was released from prison, Lurie was conflicted whether he was doing the right thing.


“Yes, because I’m a dog lover,” Lurie told the Daily News on Sunday. “So, at that time, it was really hard. But the human being came through with Michael. I’ve been in this game a long time. He was a wonderful teammate and great in the locker room. Everything you would want.”


Even if there is initial backlash in New York because of Vick’s dogfighting history, it likely won’t be anywhere near as intense as it was in Philly simply because so many years have gone by. By the time training camp opens, it will become more of a football issue: Does Vick have anything left to give the Jets? Will he beat out Smith?


Vick beat out Nick Foles in Eagles training camp last summer, but lost his job when he was out with a hamstring injury and Foles was on his way to a 27-touchdown, two-interception season and led the Eagles to the NFC East title. If Vick can beat out Foles, he can beat out Smith, which would fit into the win-now mode that Johnson was talking about, but may not say much for the “sustainable success” motto adopted by Rex Ryan and John Idzik.


Last season, Vick never complained when he couldn’t get back on the field. But if he’s Smith’s backup this season, that will test his ability to continue to be a good teammate if he thinks he should be playing.


Smith is unlikely to ever be an elite quarterback and Vick’s days as an elite quarterback are long gone. When you think you have two quarterbacks, if often means you have none



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