Any realistic Jets fan should have already reached the decision to sack Ryan Fitzpatrick and be ready for Bryce Petty several weeks ago – all for the sake of future progress and stock-taking. But for whatever reason, head coach Todd Bowles may be the last person to realize this.
The Jets have now ensured themselves of its fifth non-winning season in the past six years, so now is the time to take inventory of the season. But for Bowles, who admitted via conference call on Monday that it was a “no brainer” to name Fitzpatrick the starter against the Indianapolis Colts, next Monday night, it just seems like Gang Green is spinning its wheels in quicksand.
Bowles went back to Fitzpatrick on Sunday against the New England Patriots, and while he wasn’t the albatross many thought he’d be, as the veteran acquitted himself nicely in the 22-17 defeat, it’s time to turn the page on this chapter of Fitz Magic. But in order for the Jets (3-8) to take full stock of what they may have next season, Bowles is going to need to come off his mantra that he’s playing the guy who gives the team “the best chance to win.”
Following the Patriots game, the coach refused to make any “rash decisions” regarding his choice of starter against the Colts, all the while already knowing he was going to stick with the veteran. But all logic seems to point to giving Petty that extended audition, contrary to what Bowles wants. Many thought it was going to be the second-year signal caller lacing it up against New England, heading into that week of preparation following the team’s bye week, but it was Fitzpatrick, healed from his knee sprain the previous week, who trotted on the field. And while the $12-million journeyman had a decent game (22-of-32 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and then one killer fumble on the team’s final drive), anyone who follows Gang Green knows the bearded one isn’t part of New York’s future, given his contract situation and age (he turned 34 on Thanksgiving).
Fitzpatrick, for his two cents, said he’s tiring of the talk, noting he’s “just not going to answer that question anymore … you [the media] ask it every week, [and] I have the same answer every week. So, I’ll just go with the same answer every week.”
Close defeats and moral victories don’t mean anything in the NFL, so while it must’ve been nice for Bowles to see his switch back to Fitzpatrick as some small piece of vindication, the big picture is still right in front of him. Perhaps, in Bowles’s eyes, he sees the fact that the Jets have lost three straight games by just four, three, and five points, respectively, as a sign that the team is close to getting over the hump. But even if New York gets on a roll and wins out, a .500 mark in the competitive AFC won’t get the job done.
The plight of the Jets this season has many culprits, and a smart guy like Fitzpatrick obviously knows he’s been one of the primary suspects. Gang Green backers can only hope that Bowels eventually sees it, too, and makes the necessary call for the remainder of the season.
Gang Green notes:
- Fitzpatrick has now thrown for at least two touchdown passes in 10 of the 11 home games he has started for the Jets.
- The past seven games in the Jets-Patriots rivalry have been decided by seven or fewer points, with five of those going to the Patriots.
- Despite the doom and gloom surrounding this season, perhaps the Jets have found a nice complement to star wideout – Quincy Enunwa. Together, the talented tandem combined for 11 receptions, 176 yards, and two touchdowns. Enunwa, who had an amazing acrobatic 22-yard touchdown, also reached the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career.
- Safety Calvin Pryor is in the concussion protocol.