FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- There was a report last week that suggested some of the New York Jets' coaches were disappointed that Michael Vick didn't push harder for the starting job. The man who coaches the quarterbacks, David Lee, presented an entirely different picture.
"Michael Vick has been great, he's been a great addition," Lee told reporters Tuesday, his first interview since June. "He has come in here and done exactly what we asked him to do. He has pushed Geno (Smith). He's been a tremendous competitor. The guy will compete and he's been great in the classroom. Doesn't talk a lot, but when he does, I listen. We all listen.
"I'm just shocked at what a team guy he's been from the start," Lee also said. "You put him on the field and he's a competing machine. His eyes change and he wants to go. He wants to put it in the end zone every time he gets the ball."
Lee doesn't talk to the media that often. When he does, he always provides keen insights and strong opinions. A sampling:
On Smith's inconsistent rookie year: "I think it was a little bit overwhelming, which is why he was so up and down the first two-thirds of the season. He settled down and played with confidence. Now he's even walking around the building with more confidence. He's not cocky -- he's a humble kid -- but he's a confident quarterback at this point in time."
Lee said Smith's three most improved areas are ball security, footwork and accuracy. He said Smith's footwork is "almost immaculate." Now, he said, the objective is to make sure Smith stays consistent with his footwork and trusts his reads.
Lee believes Smith is doing a better job with his eyes. Example: Throwing a 'go' route in shotgun, the quarterback needs to take a three-step drop and hitch, glancing at the free safety on the first step and indentifying the target on the third step. Smith can do that now. "Before," Lee said, "his eyes were everywhere."
Lee described Smith's improvement this way: Better eyes lead to better footwork, which leads to better accuracy.
On Smith's relationship with Vick: "He's been great for Geno. They get along really well. They trust each other. Mike has been dead honest. I hear those comments and he's done nothing but enhance Geno's chances of being a better professional quarterback."
Lee praised third-string Matt Simms: "Matt has improved as much as any guy I can remember coaching. ... The other night was as good as I've seen him play." Based on that evaluation, it sounds like Simms has secured a roster spot.