Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles is loyal, if nothing else, but even he must start to believe that it’s time for Gang Green to pull the plug on the Ryan Fitzpatrick Freefall ride.
Sunday's defeat in Miami wasn’t ultimately Fitzpatrick’ fault – safety Antonio Allen’s offsides call that gave the Dolphins new life to subsequently return the re-do kickoff 96 yards for the game-winning score was the real stake through the heart. But the veteran quarterback didn’t do his team any favors with his lackluster performance.
His 17-of-28, 193 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions afternoon wasn’t an abject failure, but he once again totaled more turnovers than touchdowns, and leads the league with 13 interceptions. Fitzpatrick hurt his left knee late in the third quarter and was replaced by second-year pro Bryce Petty, who only played four snaps and went 2-of-2 for 19 yards. The Jets sent Fitzpatrick to get an MRI, today, and the result was a mildly-sprained medial collateral ligament. Fitzpatrick’s status is unknown right now, but judging by Bowles’s postgame words, if his veteran is cleared to play – even limited -- he will remain the starter. A 3-6 record, bushel of interceptions, and red-zone inefficiencies should tell the coach otherwise.
No one knows how to fix Fitzpatrick. And even the quarterback himself is puzzled by his sudden drop in performance, noting he’s not sure if it’s “mechanics ... or mental, or the [quarterback’s] thought process.”
Bowles noted that even after examining the film, he does not envision a scenario in which he might reevaluate the starting quarterback job. Perhaps a bleaker MRI result would’ve changed things. But as of today, Fitzpatrick will get the call against the Los Angeles Rams. That may not be the wisest of moves, however, considering how rudely the Rams’ ferocious defensive front just treated reigning league MVP Cam Newton, yesterday. The Panthers came out on top, but the Rams’ defense got its pound of flesh from Newton, who was sacked five times and held to just 16 yards rushing.
If one of the game’s most mobile and athletic quarterbacks can be reduced to that, imagine the harm’s way Bowles would be putting the sitting duck Fitzpatrick in, next Sunday, when the Rams come to town.
Los Angeles’ defense is far stauncher than Miami’s and that Dolphins attack made the Jets look rather ordinary. New York started that game 0-of-4 in the red zone before scoring a late touchdown. Fitzpatrick is tops in the league in red-zone interceptions with five. And the signal caller has been so inept in that department, that Gang Green leads the league in stalled red-zone drives with seven field goal attempts from inside the six-yard line.
That’s unacceptable for an offense that also features Marshall and running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. Something needs to be done, but it looks like switching signal callers won’t be on the docket.
But Bowles shouldn’t be so beholden to his journeyman quarterback, because it might be wise to give his banged-up passer a week’s reprieve, given the insatiable nature of the Rams’ pass rush. Besides, Petty is likely going to see the field at some point this season, especially as the losses continue to mount and the season gets to its bleakest point. Simply put, New York isn’t going anywhere and the Jets need to finally start to evaluate its young signal callers. And with Fitzpatrick tossing just two touchdowns against 10 interceptions in the second half of ball games this season, it’s almost about that time to make the switch and see what Petty can do – or at the very least, begin to prep the youngster to start in Week 12, following the Jets’ bye week.
Gang Green notes:
- Fitzpatrick’s quarterback rating on Sunday was 63.5. He entered the game with the league’s worst quarterback rating (68.0). He now has eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season.
- With six receptions, yesterday, Marshall surpassed Torry Holt for 19th on the all-time receptions list. Marshall passed Holt in the second quarter.
- Marshall also passed former Jets great Don Maynard for 26th on the all-time receiving yards list. He now has 11,858 receiving yards for his career and remains just 46 yards shy of tying Hall of Famer Michael Irvin for 25th all-time.
- Marshall extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 153. It’s currently the second-longest active streak in the NFL, only behind Arizona Cardinals great Larry Fitzgerald.
- Forte has recorded a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games for the first time since entering the league in 2008. His 32-yard rush was his longest of the season. That carry moved him into sole possession of 34th place on the all-time rushing yards list. He currently has 9,236 career rushing yards. And for the season, he currently ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns, with seven, and third in the conference.