MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.
Todd Bowles is unwavering in his support of Ryan Fitzpatrick, even after he threw two more brutal interceptions in the second half of Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Dolphins, another awful defeat that all but ended realistic hopes of a playoff run by the Jets.
Fitzpatrick will remain the starter, and the coach left no wiggle room. Even after he reviews the tape — as he did after a loss to the Cardinals, when he offered a postgame vote of confidence and then benched Fitzpatrick — Fitz is still his guy.
Sorry, Coach. We’ve seen enough. At 3-6, it’s time to see if Bryce Petty can be part of the quarterback solution moving forward.
Bowles was having none of the speculation, as he immediately tamped down any possibility of making a change. But why?
Fitzpatrick has had every opportunity to prove he deserves to be the Jets’ starter. The one-year, $12-million bet he placed on himself by agreeing to a short-term deal afforded him a shot at parlaying that into a longer-term deal, but only if he could duplicate or even exceed his career year in 2015, when he threw a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes.
But he was dreadful during a 1-5 start against quality opponents, throwing a league-high 11 interceptions. Bowles initially appeared willing to stick with Fitzpatrick but changed his mind and gave Geno Smith the start against the Ravens in Week 7.
Karma looked kindly upon Fitzpatrick, who filled in well and got the win after Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter. He helped spark a terrific comeback last week, albeit against winless Cleveland, and the back-to-back wins set the stage for Sunday’s game. Another win and the Jets would be 4-5, with a chance to get to .500 against the Rams.
But Fitzpatrick reverted into a turnover machine. He got picked off by lineman Jordan Phillips in the third quarter, which set up a field goal to put Miami up 20-13. With a chance to go ahead in the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick was picked off in the end zone on a pass that was thrown up for grabs.
Fitzpatrick was out briefly Sunday because of a knee problem, which gave Petty, last year’s fourth-round pick, his first NFL snaps. Fitzpatrick refused to use the injury as an excuse, though. He’ll get an MRI on Monday, although he expressed confidence that he’ll be well enough to play.
But Fitzpatrick has played himself out of the Jets’ future, and there’s no sense sticking with him, especially knowing that he almost certainly won’t be brought back next season.
Fitzpatrick acknowledged that he has been the problem, although he said he’s all for Bowles keeping him as the starter.
“It all falls on the quarterback,” Fitzpatrick said. “There’s a lot of things I could have done better today that I didn’t. As the quarterback and the guy that’s making a lot of the final decisions, whether it’s to throw the ball or whether to run or check to the pass or vice versa, a lot of it falls on the quarterback.”
Brandon Marshall, who appeared disconsolate after the loss, pinned the entire season on himself and Fitzpatrick.
“This falls on Fitz and I,” he said. “This whole year falls on Fitz and I. We’re the leaders on that side of the ball, and we’re not getting it done.”
He’s right about that. Which makes it all the more logical to see if Petty is a realistic option moving forward. There have been promising performances by young passers such as rookies Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz this season, and there’s no reason to stubbornly cling to Fitzpatrick as the starter.
He’s a tough competitor, he’s a terrific leader, but he’s not a reliable long-term quarterback. Get Petty some meaningful experience and bring him into camp next year to compete with Christian Hackenberg, who has not engendered enough confidence in the coaching staff to put him in games yet.
At 3-6, it’s essentially over for the Jets, and Fitzpatrick’s lifespan as a reliable starter in the NFL has ended.
Time to move on.
Maybe these numbers will make Todd Bowles reconsider his decision to stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick:
Bottom 5 QB Ratings in NFL (150 or more pass attempts)
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets 67.6
Blaine Gabbert, 49ers 69.6
Brock Osweiler, Texans 73.1
Joe Flacco, Ravens 76.0
Case Keenum, Rams 77.5