Ryan Fitzpatrick finally ran out of time and excuses.
After an embarrassing outing by the Jets against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, coach Todd Bowles turned over the team and his offense to Bryce Petty — this time for good. And just like that, Fitzpatrick’s run as the Jets’ locker-room leader came to an end.
“I didn’t get it done, you know?” said the 34-year-old quarterback.
In the aftermath of a lifeless 41-10 loss in front of a sparse home crowd — a defeat that officially knocked the Jets out of playoff contention — Bowles made it known that his plan all along had been to start Petty for the final four games, regardless of how his team fared in its prime-time affair.
“We could have won 45-0 and he was going to start the last four games,” said Bowles, who benched Fitzpatrick at halftime with the Jets trailing 24-3.
Both quarterbacks were informed of the decision shortly before their postgame interviews. Fitzpatrick, who heard the news in the locker room from offensive coaches, wouldn’t venture to guess what his future holds. “I just want to be out there playing, but I didn’t play well enough,” he said. “ . . . It’s been a rough season.”
And while the door to Fitzpatrick’s NFL career is slowly closing, Petty’s future is just beginning.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me,” said the 2015 fourth-round pick, who was 11-for-25 for 135 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. “I didn’t want it to be this way — I would much rather have us be in the same situation we were in last year [a 10-6 record] and on the brink of making the playoffs. But what I do know is that opportunities are few and far between in this league, so you’ve got to capitalize on any chance you get. I’m going to work my [butt] off.”
First, however, the Jets (3-9) must dissect their latest disaster.
In a half-full MetLife Stadium, they showed little heart and even less fight. No one wanted to be there, it seemed — not the fans and certainly not Bowles’ players.
Owner Woody Johnson had a suite-level view to the entire debacle with Vice President-elect Mike Pence sitting comfortably by his side. Johnson watched as the Jets were bullied by an inferior Colts offensive line and allowed quarterback Andrew Luck (22-for-28, 278 yards, four touchdowns) to pick apart his high-priced secondary. He also saw the veteran quarterback he had so desperately wanted to re-sign this past summer get benched. Again.
“For the first time this year, we got our [butt] handed to us,” a visibly irritated Bowles said. “And that’s very difficult from a physical standpoint . . . I don’t think we had a lot of effort. I’ll see the film, I’m sure there were some people that showed effort. But for the most part, we got our [butt] kicked.”
Save for a few players — namely, Leonard Williams and backups Rontez Miles and Deon Simon — the defense appeared to be moving in slow motion, and their lack of intensity wasn’t lost on Bowles.
“We’re going to see what kind of fight we have this week,” he said, adding that his goals for the rest of the season are: “Play hard. Play smart. Play the guys that want to play.”
The most exciting play of the night came courtesy of a New Jersey State Police officer who lowered a blind-side hit on one of two shirtless streakers who raced across the field in the third quarter.
Bowles’ decision to sit Fitzpatrick (5-for-12, 81 yards, one interception) in favor of Petty came far too late to affect the outcome of the game. By the time Petty took over, the Jets were in a 31-3 hole with 8:48 left in the third. He did, however, connect with rookie Robby Anderson on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 11:19 remaining.
Luck, meanwhile, had no issue finding wide-open receivers. And no one was more wide open than Dwayne Allen, who caught touchdown passes of 7, 21 and 23 yards in the first half.