New York Jets: QB Geno Smith Would Improve With Addition of Michael Vick

Gang Green might be the new favorite shade of green for free agent Michael Vick after spending the past four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The New York Jets are being rumored to be interested in signing the former No. 1 overall pick from the 2001 NFL Draft this offseason to help bolster the quarterback position this season.

Vick, who was replaced by Nick Foles midway through the 2013 season, could still bring a lot of positives to the Jets even with the prime of his career behind him and turning 34 years old this June.

The biggest of those positives would be to help in the development of second-year quarterback Geno Smith, which had considerable ups and downs in his first season in the NFL.

In 2013, Smith completed 247 of his 443 pass attempts, along with tossing only 12 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions in 16 games played for the Jets. Not to add insult to injury, the 21 interceptions was the most by a rookie quarterback since Peyton Manning tossed 28 in his first season in Indianapolis during the 1998 season.

Smith’s numbers at the end of his first season should have come to no surprise for a rookie to be roughed up by the caliber of today’s NFL defenses following the jump from West Virginia and the Big 12 Conference.

Even with that rough freshman season in 2013, the Jets’ focus should stick to supporting Smith as the team’s starting quarterback, instead of bringing in Vick to take the signal caller job in 2014.

At the same time, Smith would be motivated to improve and keep his spot on the team with the 11-year veteran nipping at his heels during training camp and the preseason.

Smith didn’t have that type of pressure on him from a backup last season, so he could be pushed to avoid another late season slump and push the Jets into the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

Vick could also help speed up Smith’s understanding of the play calling with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg this season, which held the same position during Vick’s time with the Eagles during the 2009-2012 seasons.

The Jets’ offense, which was poor in every category outside of the running game with Chris Ivory, would be helped greatly if the organization selected a wide receiver with the 18th pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

Texas A&M’s Mike Evans could give Smith a big target to look for sprinting down the sideline, which could drastically improve the Jets’ passing game that ranked 30th last season.

If the case of an injury happens in the preseason or early in the regular season, Smith would still have a backup that could step in as starting quarterback in an offense that he should grasp with Mornhinweg.

With potential still yet to be uncovered in Smith, the Jets needs to add the consistency and leadership of Vick to the franchise’s quarterback position instead of another quarterback controversy along sidelines of MetLife Stadium.

You can follow Chris at @_CBH_ on Twitter. This post can also be seen at WVU Pros. You can follow WVU Pros at @WVUPros on Twitter.

Super Bowl XLVIII: Looking at Bruce Irvin, Former Mountaineers to win Super Bowl

With Seattle’s 43-3 Super Bowl victory over Denver, linebacker Bruce Irvin added his name to the list of former West Virginia Mountaineers to raise the Lombardi Trophy at the end of an NFL season.

Irvin collected only two solo tackles in a very limited role during the game as the Seahawks’ linebacker harassed Peyton Manning on crucial downs for the Broncos.

The lopsided victory over the Broncos was the biggest lopsided final score in Super Bowl history since the Dallas Cowboys’ 52-17 blowout of the Buffalo Bills at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993.

In the past 25 years,, there have been many Mountaineer football alumni to go from winning in the Old Gold and Blue to biggest stage in football at Super Bowl.

Prior to the win with Seattle last night, you would have to go back nearly a decade to Super Bowl XL to find a former Mountaineer on the roster of a championship team.

Offensive tackle Selvish Capers and linebacker Mortty Ivy each won Super Bowl rings with the Giants and Steelers, but were members of the two franchises’ practice squads.

Defensive back Mike Logan was the aforementioned most recent Mountaineer to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fifth championship season in 2005, which he collected seven tackles and a forced fumble in only three games.

During the height of the New England Patriots’ dynasty in the early part of the 2000s, you will find the next former Mountaineer to win a Super Bowl on the offensive line protecting future hall of fame quarterback, Tom Brady.

Mike Compton finished his 12 year career with two Super Bowl trophies as an offensive guard for the Patriots’ 2001 and 2003 championship seasons.

The 2000s was a good decade for former Mountaineers in the Super Bowl, but the 1990s was very scarce for titles outside of the first two years of the final decade of the 20th century.

Travis Curtis and Alvoid Mays, defensive backs for the Redskins, helped Joe Gibbs win his third Super Bowl championship at Super Bowl XXVI, the third title in a ten year span.

In a scene resembling Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe for the Patriots some years later, Jeff Hostetler took over for an injured Phil Simms for the Giants in 1990 and led New York to 20-19 win in Super Bowl over in-state rival, Buffalo Bills. Defensive end Mike Fox also was a part of the Giants’ championship, but in a very limited role that season.

The future looks bright for West Virginia alumni in the NFL moving forward as Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey look to help bring the Rams back to prominence in the NFC West. The same will go for Geno Smith and the Jets as the record breaking Mountaineer quarterback takes steps to becoming an elite signal caller in the NFL.

With a young team loaded with talent on both sides of the ball in Seattle, we might just be talking about a second Super Bowl championship for Big Bruce this time next year after the Big Game in Phoenix.

Since we all know, once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.

This post can also be found at WVUPros.com, where we strive to bring the latest and most up-to-date news about your favorite former Mountaineers and a mix of current West Virginia University athletics.

Seattle Seahawks: Analyzing Bruce Irvin’s Move To Linebacker

Bruce Irvin of the Seattle Seahawks has carved out a name for himself in his young football career on the defensive side of the ball.

He made quick work of becoming an playmaker during his two collegiate seasons at West Virginia with 23 sacks and five forced fumbles leading to being selected 15th overall  in the 2012 NFL Draft.

With one season now in the books, Irvin began a new chapter in his second NFL season this year when Seattle made the change for the former Mountaineer to switch from defensive end to the linebacker position.

The stats so far in his move to linebacker has seen tackles increase more than double, but sacks have taken a bit of hit with only two registered with only three games left in the regular season.

With his solid play to this point in the season, the experience and instincts Irvin picked in his high school football playing days in Georgia has most certainly helped his move to the linebacker position.

The past play as defensive back will have the most bearing today with the ability to recognize and disrupt routes ran by receivers and running back forcing their way up the field.

As well as identifying receiver routes, Irvin would have an understanding of the timing needed to jump one of those routes and force an interception like he did against Kellen Clemons and the St Louis Rams this past October.

The best example for Irvin to possibly pattern his playing style after moving forward would be that of the future Pro Football Hall of Famer and Chicago Bears legend, Brian Urlacher.

Even though hard to compare the two linebackers at this time, Urlacher was also able to play different positions on offense and defense like Irvin during his time as a playmaker for Dennis Franchione and Rocky Long at the University of New Mexico.

The linebackers are nearly mirror images in terms of size and weight with Irvin getting the edge over his older counterpart in terms of speed off the ball.

With a stingy defense surrounding him for seasons to come in Seattle, Irvin could very well become the Seahawks’ franchise linebacker as Urlacher was for his 12 seasons in the Windy City.

This post can also be found at WVUPros.com, where we strive to bring the latest and most up-to-date news about your favorite former Mountaineers and a mix of current West Virginia University athletics.

NFL: Tavon Austin Looks For Another Big Day Against Chicago Bears

For the players and fans of the Indianapolis Colts, the blur of white, gold and blue that was running up and down the field two weeks ago was Rams rookie receiver Tavon Austin.

Austin’s breakout performance against the Colts was one of those “been there, done that” type of moments for fans of the receiver during his four years as a Mountaineer.

For fans of St Louis that didn’t get a chance to see him in college, the game was their first true glimpse of what their 8th overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft can be for the team moving forward into the future.

With the record setting day behind us and looking forward to tomorrow’s game against the Bears, what will Austin do as an encore and will Chicago be able to contain the rookie receiver from another spectacular day?

One of the biggest factors in deciding outcomes of games in the NFL, the weather, will play no factor in this weekend’s game as the Rams and Bears will play on the fast track of the Edward Jones Dome in St Louis. The climate controlled atmosphere of the dome will be much better playing conditions instead of the below freezing temperatures expected in Chicago at the same time.

From the much more reliable view from the statistical side, Austin might have a chance to weave his way through a Bears’ defense that has been dealing with injuries through the midway point of 2013.

Chicago’s second best run defense in the NFL is stifling opposing running games this season, but the middle of the pack No. 17 pass defense is keeping those same opposing teams in contention late in games.

The Rams should focus their game plan more toward the recent smart throwing by Kellen Clemens and delivering the ball to his talented group of receivers especially Austin.

While not being very effective at running the ball so far this season, a timely jet sweep around the outside late in the game could get Austin a chance to do some damage outside of the receiving and special teams.

Austin should hope above else to avoid games this season like those at Houston and against Seattle where the WVU standout was downright ineffective with three combined receptions in those games.

If we’re lucky and everything breaks right for the Rams, we might just get to see the second straight sighting of ‘Tavon Awesome’ this NFL Sunday.

This post can also be found at WVUPros.com, where we strive to bring the latest and most up-to-date news about your favorite former Mountaineers and a mix of current West Virginia University athletics.

Geno Smith: Why Former Mountaineer Should Remain Jets’ QB

It was another long day in what has been a long rookie season in the NFL for Geno Smith as the New York Jets (5-5) fell to the Buffalo Bills (4-7) on Sunday.

Smith endured his worst day on the field statistically as he completed only eight of his 23 passing attempts for 103 yards through the air and three interceptions.

At the end of the first half, the numbers indeed didn’t lie on how bad Smith was performing to that point in the game, trailing 20-0 at halftime.

Da’Norris Searcy of the Bills took the third interception of the day by Smith back for a pick-six touchdown in the latter moments of the third quarter, the fourth instance this season.

After one more incomplete pass by Smith, Jets head coach Rex Ryan decided to bench Smith from the game to instead give Matt Simms a chance to run the offense in the fourth quarter.

Despite all of those negatives from Sunday’s game against Buffalo, Ryan made a point in his post game press conference to name Smith the starter for New York’s game against the Ravens in Baltimore.

The decision to keep Smith as the starting quarterback of the Jets was the right one for the often outspoken and controversial Ryan. The move of benching for next week’s game or for the remainder of the season could possibly ruin the psyche of the former standout quarterback for West Virginia.

Geno will have the chance to prove he’s the long term answer at quarterback for New York with what will be a tough remaining schedule with games against Baltimore, Oakland, Carolina, Cleveland and two against Miami.

With playmakers on the offensive side of the ball and a top ten defense, the continued play of the offensive line will be the biggest thing to watch to see how Geno will perform the rest of the season.

As with any rookie, Geno will have a lot more pains before making any gains on the football field as an elite or even an average starting quarterback in the NFL that chews up and spits out players at the position.