It’s happened. The New York Jets will start backup quarterback Geno Smith against the Baltimore Ravens at Metlife Stadium Sunday afternoon. Is this the end of the Ryan Fitzpatrick era? Have the Jets thrown in the towel, waived the white flag? Do they believe that Smith now gives them the best chance to win?
The Jets had no choice but to re-sign and start the season with Fitzpatrick. If they didn’t and went 1-3, 1-4 and 1-5 as they are now with Fitzpatrick starting, the outcry denouncing their front office management would have been tremendous.
The Jets were damned if they did, and apparently, damned if they didn’t.
The Jets only have one win so far this season with Fitzpatrick, who has logged in five touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’d held out before the start of the season until he was paid the $12 million that he requested to re-sign.
Even though it was understood that the Jets faced a difficult first half-season schedule, imagining potential regular season losses isn’t as hard as seeing them listed weekly in the NFL’s standings. At least there’s a possibility at that point of wins.
It was assumed that having Fitzpatrick, who led the Jets to a 10-6 record last season, would give them a better chance to win, to get them to the postseason. He knew the system. He already knew the plays. He was entrenched.
“We’re trying to win a ballgame,” said Jets head coach Todd Bowles.
“We’ve got to take it a week at a time,” he further stated, noting that the Jets haven’t discussed the playoffs since the beginning of the season. “We’ve got to have a quick turn around, and we’ve got to play better.”
The second-year head coach is currently weathering a four-game losing streak. His Jets haven’t won a game since the second week of the season, and they’ve lost the last four by double digits: 24-3 to Kansas City, 27-17 to Seattle, 31-13 to the Steelers and 28-3 to Arizona.
The Jets aren’t scoring. They’re struggling. They’re consistently going three and out, forcing their defense to play longer, which will eventually burn the defense out.
Bowles defended Fitzpatrick’s play in Monday’s game, suggesting that the offensive line isn’t giving him enough protection. Their run game has also suffered, a direct and indirect correlation to Fitzpatrick’s protection.
Besides X’s and O’s, Bowles must now consider other changes to his starting lineup. Maybe a change in his staff. Being a defensive specialist himself, will he be more active in the decision making on that side of the ball? And of course, with mounting losses, there will be those who’ll now question his ability to coach and second guess him.
Will there be a quarterback controversy? Is there one? Yes, but it’s quieter than most.
Fans would welcome the one in Dallas, but “dem Cowboys” are winning games with their rookie QB replacement, Dak Prescott, who took over for injured veteran starter Tony Romo. The issue here is will Romo get his job back when he’s ready to return if Prescott continues to win. In no way does the Jets’ situation resemble that of the Cowboys. Nor is it as simple as backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick replacing Blaine Gabbert in San Francisco.
There’s no overwhelming confidence in the Jets’ backups. Smith, who’s been making notable quotes, understandably in regards to his eagerness to play, hasn’t instilled any confidence in us yet. His contract is up at the end of the season. The Jets need to see what he has. He’s getting his second chance to prove to the Jets, their fans and to guys like me and my peers that he can play.
Maybe it’s evident to the Jets that this season and the Fitzpatrick era is over, that he no longer gives the Jets the best chance to win. But remember, the Kansas City Chiefs also started last season with a 1-5 record but turned it all around and made the playoffs. It would be remiss of me to not mention this. I’m just saying.
As much confidence as Jets sophomore quarterback Bryce Petty and the rookie Christian Hackenberg may have in themselves, it has yet to manifest in everyone else. If the Jets don’t immediately improve, they deserve a chance to play, too. Let them show what they’ve got, other than to just throw them in solely based on the theory of “Why not? What the hell do we have to lose?”