"He's healthy. He's been our starter. I don't see anything that could change that right now." - Todd Bowles
That was Bowles' answer to being asked if the decision to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick was because he "gives them the best chance to win" and that and one other quote, which we'll get to shortly, tell you all you need to know about why that decision was made.
"He's healthy" and "he's been our starter" are two awful justifications for why someone is named the starting quarterback. The part about being healthy is really more of a bare minimum requirement than a justifiable reason and the fact that he's been your starter sounds good until you remember that he's been the worst starter in the league this year and that the Jets record is 2-6 in games Fitzpatrick has started this year. Those are hardly inspiring proclamations of faith, but that meager defense tells you what little Bowles thinks of Bryce Petty as a viable option right now.
Fans are over Fitzpatrick, they're ready to move on and they want to see if there's a possible future between them and Petty and if not Petty then Christian Hackenberg. And yes, it would be in the organization's best interest to see if there's anything there with the two young quarterbacks but it's not in Bowles' best interest because he might not be here to see that future if they don't start winning some games before the season ends. As bad as Fitzpatrick has been the reality is he still gives the Jets the best chance to win which is a damning indictment on both Petty and Hackenberg.
This much has been obvious since the loss against the Rams, the offensive gameplan suggested a team just trying to survive the week and get back to their original starter much more than a team evaluating their young quarterback. The Jets refused to open up the offense and turn Petty loose, which makes no sense considering what little the Jets had to lose by doing so, and watching that game it became obvious that Bowles would turn back to Fitzpatrick as soon as he was healthy again and this next quote from Bowles should be all the proof needed if you haven't already been convinced (emphasis mine).
"He's been playing all year. He knows the system. We can do more things with him. He's been our starter. I don't give jobs away. You have to take a job." Translation, Bowles doesn't think Petty is a starting quarterback in this league, not even to replace the worst starting quarterback in the league. Fans want to see what Petty has, but Bowles is telling you he's seen enough to know he isn't about to risk his job on Petty. Petty was drafted with the hope of him one day being able to develop into a solid backup, the Jets were never under any illusions that he could actually become a solid starter and through two years of training camps and practice Petty has done nothing to raise expectations.
Bowles knows the difference between finishing the season 3-13 or 5-11/6-10 could be the difference between him looking for new employment next year and as bad as Fitzpatrick has been he's still going to trust the veteran to get him those extra wins over the young guys and if the only goal is to win games this year then it's the right decision. But it's the right decision for the wrong reason, this decision is all about self-preservation which is understandable from Bowles' perspective but points to disaster/unorganized infrastructure.
This is Rex Ryan and John Idzik working off of two different agendas all over again. Ryan wanted to win now to save his job, Idzik was concerned about building for the future and in the end they both got fired. This isn't to say Bowles is defying Mike Maccagnan, maybe Maccagnan wants to go with Fitzpatrick for now too, but there's no doubt that it would be better for the organization to see what they have in Petty and Hackenberg this season, and accumulate more losses for a higher draft pick, but Bowles is too worried about his job to think that way.
So, Fitzpatrick it is and don't be surprised if it's Fitzpatrick for the rest of the season because Bowles has emphatically told us all he doesn't believe in his other options. If you're not completely over the Fitzpatrick era you can watch video of him talking to reporters yesterday above.
Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)null