Tuesday marked the four-year anniversary of one of the league’s most infamous plays – the Butt Fumble. And the way things have been going for the New York Jets (3-7) lately, it’s appropriate they’re playing the same opponent from that game, the New England Patriots (8-2).
It’s also suitable for quarterback issues to rear their head again for Gang Green, as head coach Todd Bowles is fumbling the ball on his decision to re-insert Ryan Fitzpatrick into the starting lineup. The coach could’ve used Fitzpatrick’s knee sprain as a way out from ever seeing the bearded one on the field again in a Jets’ uni. But he instead hearkened to the old, tired mantra that Fitzpatrick gives the Jets the “best chance to win.”
Forget the fact that the Jets’ season is essentially over for all intents and purposes. And that now is the time to see if New York truly is ready for Bryce Petty. But Bowles is coaching as if he doesn’t want to let down a veteran team that is still in the playoff hunt – which they’re not. And he’s also coaching as if his job is on the line – which it may be. But instead of thinking of the big picture, regardless of his employment status, Bowles is dropping the ball and being short-sighted. Gang Green isn’t going anywhere this season, so Sunday would’ve been a great time to kick the tires on Petty again and see if he’s a viable option for the Jets’ future. Petty wasn’t an abomination, two weeks ago, in a 9-6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and at the very least deserved another shot at a second career start.
Instead, the Jets’ faithful will get treated to another likely mediocre performance from the $12-million man and be thankful that this wash of a season is on the back end.
This game figures to be so bad that network execs decided to flex out of this once-scheduled national primetime matchup and switch it to a 4:25 p.m. EST kickoff. The less eyes to view this, the better.
1. Anymore Magic?
If Fitzpatrick has anything left in the tank, Sunday would be the time to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Beating the Patriots would be the season’s highlight, but if recent history is anything to follow, don’t count on it. Regardless of who has played quarterback this season for the Jets, it’s been an albatross. Jets quarterbacks have completed just 56.9 percent of their passes, the worst mark in the AFC. The team’s 68.7 quarterback rating is also the worst in the NFL, 20.4 marks below the league average this season. Fitzpatrick, 33, has led the charge, as he’s completed 168-of-298 passes for 1,983 yards, eight touchdowns, and a league-high 13 interceptions. Bowles, though, isn’t ready for Petty just yet, and is ready to ride the Fitzpatrick Freefall again.
“He’s healthy [and] he’s been our starter. We can do more things with him,” Bowles reasoned. “I don’t just give away jobs.”
2. Catch a giant sleeping?
About the only way the Jets upset the Patriots – barring holding Tom Brady for ransom – is to catch New England truly sleeping at the wheel. Anything is possible in the NFL, and the league loves to pump that “any given Sunday” mantra, but perhaps the Jets can make a game of this by lulling the Pats to sleep. The Patriots are coming into Week 12 after beating the 49ers, 30-17, in San Francisco. Logistically New England will be at a disadvantage flying back from the Bay Area to Foxboro, working through a shortened holiday week to get ready for their AFC East rival, and then play a mid-afternoon contest in front of a loud, frothing MetLife crowd, who will have undoubtedly be full-throttled and tailgated to the hilt. Meanwhile, the Jets are coming off their bye week and have had added time to prepare, and should be up for their hated rivals. Plus, any matchup against a divisional opponent is never a gimme. The Patriots are 2-1 against the AFC East, only losing to Buffalo while Brady was still serving his four-game suspension. It’s unlikely all these factors break Gang Green’s way, but that’s why they play the games.
3. Revis on an island
Once upon a time, it was Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis who left many star wideouts stranded on his personal purgatory spot called Revis Island. As a matter of fact, it was only two seasons ago that the island was open for business while Revis was a member of the Patriots and collecting a Super Bowl ring. But fast forward to present day and it’s now the future Hall of Famer who is in purgatory with no hope of escaping. Revis Island has now become a destination point for opposing wideouts, and the Jets can be certain that Brady and company will make many attempts to visit on Sunday. Brady is one of the all-time best at recognizing mismatches and exploiting it time and again. It’ll be interesting to see if Bowles sends a rescue team for Revis and uses a safety over the top, or have faith that the island can once again be an unsafe haven for visitors.