Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Fitzpatrick is far from the only thing ailing the Jets. That list would cover most of the roster. But really, what do they have to lose by trying something different at quarterback?
Geno Smith has experience. Bryce Petty has promise. Fitzpatrick has . . . a 1-5 record after Monday night’s 28-3 loss to the Cardinals, the shockingly awful Jets’ fourth in a row by double-digit margins.
Alas, Todd Bowles is the one who gets to decide such things, and he made it clear that Fitzpatrick will be back in the saddle Sunday when the Jets face the Ravens before what figures to be a cranky crowd at MetLife Stadium.
“Fitz will be back next week,” the coach said in an interview room adjacent to the funereal visiting locker room.
Smith did enter the game with 8:20 left and completed his first four passes, but his brief appearance ended with an interception by Tyrann Mathieu.
When it was over, he pronounced himself ready to play right now but also vowed to wait until called upon.
What about ESPN’s report that he had said before the game he was “antsy” to see some action? True.
“Of course, man, I am, always, and that’s not just me,” he said. “Every guy who isn’t out there wants to be there. That’s the nature of the business. That’s what makes us competitors and that’s how we got here.”
What about Smith’s actions on the sideline, when it appeared he was growing increasingly frustrated about not getting a chance? Not true. He said he merely was frustrated by how the game was going.
At least he could feel the fans’ pain. The real problem is that the Jets have no good options to fix an offense that has become dysfunctional.
Fitzpatrick might — might — still give them the best chance to win as the upcoming schedule softens. But they have an infinitesimal chance to make the playoffs, and their 33-year-old quarterback is playing under a one-year, $12-million contract after he decided to bet on himself rather than sign a longer-term deal. Oops.
Time to look elsewhere — anywhere. Maybe Smith, 26, will find a spark in himself and spark his teammates. Maybe Petty, 25, can become a legitimate option for the future.
Making the move to Smith this week would have been bold, especially for a team full of big-name veterans over 30 that is built to win now. But they are not winning now, not even close.
And with all due respect to Fitzpatrick, this is not the same situation as the Giants waiting out a sluggish start by Eli Manning, given his superior resume. Fitz has not earned that level of trust.
In short: The Jets are a complete mess, which is startling after that 10-6 record last year.
What’s wrong with the offense? “There’s a whole bunch of things wrong, obviously,” Bowles said.
There is no running game to speak of, no blocking to speak of, and, according to Brandon Marshall, not enough help being provided by the receivers, himself included.
Marshall said he misread the defense on the fourth-quarter interception in the end zone that landed Fitzpatrick on the bench. “It’s my pick,” he said. “The fall guy is the quarterback in this situation.”
While Bowles stuck with Fitzpatrick for this week, at least he did not issue a blanket vote of confidence.
“As a coach, you foresee all situations at any position,” he said. “Anything’s possible, but right now we’re not discussing that . . . If we decide to do that, we’ll do it.”
Fitzpatrick acknowledged the obvious — “I have to play better” — but insisted he has confidence in himself and that his teammates have confidence in him.
Smith, too, insisted he has confidence in himself and that his teammates have confidence in him.
How does he know? “They tell me on a daily basis,” he said.
Confidence is good. Competence is better. Time for Bowles to look elsewhere to find it.[/DROPCAP]