Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to be exactly what we thought he was, after playing over his head last year we are witnessing the obvious regression to the mean that we all should've expected. Todd Bowles should've turned to Geno Smith after the third or fourth interception against the Chiefs, even if it was just for that game, and while he eventually did turn to Smith against the Cardinals the move should've been made before it was 28-3 with just over eight minutes left.
Bowles put Smith in a no-win situation. Had Smith succeeded with a touchdown drive or two everyone would've said, 'yeah but it was against a soft prevent defense.' Yet when faced with a fourth-and-11 Smith threw an interception somehow that's taken as a justification that he can't play. Never mind all the interceptions that the 12-year-veteran Fitzpatrick was allowed to throw, this one throw (which Charone Peake needed to comeback and attack instead of letting Tyrann Mathieu cut in front of him for the pick) somehow says all we need to know about Smith.
Immediately after the game Bowles declared Fitzpatrick would remain the starter, he said Smith was brought in in the same way a baseball manager would bring in a relief pitcher in a game that was already decided. These words were not good, but much worse was Bowles refusal to acknowledge that, yes Fitzpatrick's play was the problem.
"It definitely wasn't Fitz's fault," Bowles said with a straight face immediately after the game. "He barely had any time to throw. Anybody you put back there would've had problems."
At this point it seemed obvious, Bowles had no problem throwing the entire offensive line under the bus but he refused to admit that his quarterback simply hasn't been good enough. And let's be clear the interceptions from Fitzpatrick this year have been awful, drive killers as well as game killers, but it's not just the interceptions it's all the other errant and wildly inaccurate simple throws he continues to make, or miss, that has led to only two passing touchdowns and a pathetic 36 total points in the past four games (yes, that's an average of only nine points per game and that's including the touchdown scored by Peake after recovering and returning a Fitzpatrick fumble).
The offensive line was bad on Monday night, so was the rushing defense (and the defense in general all season), but the quarterback play has been really bad, worst in the league bad (63.4 QB rating, below the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Brock Osweiler and well below Case Keenum and Cody Kessler, and profootballfocus.com has Fitzpatrick as the 34th ranked quarterback with a grade of 41.6).
So why has Bowles stubbornly decided to stick with Fitzpatrick? Well the answer Bowles gave in a conference call yesterday to how he felt about Smith telling ESPN's Lisa Salters that he's been getting "antsy" about being stuck on the bench through Fitzpatrick's struggles gives us a pretty good idea.
"I don't have any thoughts on a backup player saying anything," Bowles said. "They're backups for a reason, and if they get a chance to play, they better prove themselves to be worthy of playing, regardless of who the person is."
Well damn! However, counterpoint: This
But forget discussing whether Bowles should be on the hot-seat for now, that will come later this week, that quote from Bowles sure sounds like he wants nothing to do with playing Smith. However, that tune started to change as more questions were asked and he started to backtrack from his immediate declaration after the game that Fitzpatrick would remain the starter while also softening his stance on Smith.
"First of all, after the game that's always going to be status quo because I'm never going to tell the media anything before I meet with my coaches and my GM and the rest of the staff. So everything is status quo until we have our meeting on Monday (note: Tuesday for this week) evening," Bowles said. "But he (Smith) did show some promise when he was out there. He understood the game plan. He did good for the drive he was in there (for)."
If a quarterback change will be made this week or next it will be for Smith, when Bowles was asked if they'll consider giving Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg some playing time down the line to develop and to see what they have he said, "It's possible. I mean we still got some stages to go before we get to that point. But it's definitely possible." But Bowles also said "Petty's only been back for about a week, so he's still got some ways to go from his injury," and declared that Petty is still third on the depth chart.
It's understandable that fans want to see what the Jets have in Petty and or Hackenberg but at 1-5 Bowles and the players can't be bothered with looking to see if either of them can be the quarterbacks of the future because they might not be here to see that future.
Yes, unless the Jets somehow win the rest of their games, or lose no more than one game, the season is over as far as the playoffs are concerned but Bowles and these players are still playing for their jobs at this point. Bowles can't afford to see what the have in Petty or Hackenberg because the difference between a two or three win season and a five or six win season might just determine if he's still employed by the Jets next year.
Today we find out who Bowles wants to put his trust in saving his job.
Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (email@example.com)