Jets head coach Todd Bowles has finally decided to stop enduring the Ryan Fitzpatrick freefall ride and hop aboard the Geno Coaster. But with the campaign nearly halfway over, it’s likely too late to salvage the season.
Sure, the Jets (1-5) can try and duplicate what the Kansas City Chiefs accomplished last season when they began 1-5 and still made the playoffs, but this year’s Jets have a weird aura to them. In KC last year, there weren’t a ton of injuries to deal with (Eric Decker, David Harris, Breno Giacomini), or elite athletes suddenly falling off a cliff (Darrelle Revis), or a quarterback controversy – making this season’s plight for Gang Green so daunting.
Since the NFL went to a 12-team postseason format in 1990, only one of 92 teams that started 1-5 made the playoffs, Kansas City last season, which won its final 10 regular-season games. That Chiefs squad went to the postseason and ironically beat a Houston Texans team that overcame its own 1-4 start to make the playoffs.
The switch to Smith comes just 36 hours after head coach Todd Bowles pulled a hamstring backpeddling from his undying support of Fitzpatrick following Monday night’s debacle in Arizona, when he said the bearded one was his guy entering Sunday’s tilt against the Baltimore Ravens despite being pulled with eight minutes remaining in the 28-3 loss to the Cardinals.
But Smith riding in as the savior this week, and perhaps longer, won’t be the real narrative. He’s still inheriting a team that has looked to be one of, if not the, worst team in the league right now. The Jets have a scoring differential of minus-11.5 points per game – which is even worse than the winless Cleveland Browns. Gang Green’s minus-11 turnover differential is also the league’s worst, just a shade below their MetLife Stadium co-tenants. The Jets haven’t shown a propensity to block or run well yet, have only shown just once that they can consistently harass the passer (Week 1 against Cincinnati), and have endured multiple busted coverages in the secondary and committed ill-timed third-down penalties.
They’ve also been outscored 51-7 in the second half of games this season during their current four-game losing streak, showing there’s been an inability to adjust at the break.
The Jets are broken. And there’s not a quarterback on this current roster who can swoop in and save the day. The six-game stretch to start the season was damning – and the play-calling and execution has been spotty at best.
Regardless of all that, however, owner Woody Johnson noted that he trusts Bowles’ decision to start Smith, saying the “coach made the decision and I back him 100 percent.” Johnson also provided public confidence in Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan, noting that he’s “very confident” in the duo and that he has “long-term confidence in him [Bowles] and Mike.”
That’s usually the kiss of death for a head coach and general manager to hear that from ownership, but for the Jets it at least appears, on the surface, that the brain trust will have a home heading into next season – and that there won’t be any house-cleaning just yet.
As for the immediate future, beginning on Sunday, New York will have to rely on what’s behind door No. 7, because it’s already been proven that what door No. 14 had to offer wasn’t working any magic for them any longer.
Gang Green notes:
- Regardless of who plays quarterback for the Jets this season, there’s still lots on the horizon that looms, such as age. The team’s most accomplished quarterback (Fitzpatrick), wideout (Brandon Marshall), running back (Matt Forte), linebacker (David Harris), and cornerback (Revis) are all 30 years or older. And another wideout in Decker (hip and shoulder surgeries) will be battling age and maladies just to make it back in time for the team’s 2017 training camp.
- Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle), linebacker Darron Lee (ankle), offensive lineman Brent Qvale (neck), cornerback Buster Skrine (excused), left tackle Ryan Clady (shoulder), and center Nick Mangold (knee) did not practice on Wednesday.