FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Todd Bowles is sticking with the quarterback who always has given the Jets “the best chance to win”: Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Despite their 3-7 record and the clamor for a quarterback change, Bowles made it clear that he’s not looking ahead to next season, nor is he ready to turn over the franchise to fan favorite Bryce Petty. Instead, he’s entrusting his team and potentially his head-coaching future to Fitzpatrick.
“He’s healthy. He’s been our starter. I don’t see anything that can change that right now,” Bowles said Monday. “He’s been playing all year. He knows more of the system, we can do more things with him. He’s been the starter and I don’t give away jobs, you’ve got to take a job.”
Up until this past weekend, Fitzpatrick led the league with 13 interceptions. Now he’s tied with the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles. And his numbers against New England aren’t pretty, either: 2-7, with 18 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.
But Bowles never came close to choosing another option, and that’s because he’s seen plenty from Petty and second-round rookie Christian Hackenberg. When questioned about knowing “nothing” about them, Bowles said: “I actually know quite a bit about both of them, so it’s not paramount for them to play right now. And right now, Fitz gives us the best option. You can play a person and see what they have. Petty’s time will come. We’ll be patient with that.”
When exactly will Petty’s time come?
“I’m not a prophet,” Bowles said. “I don’t know.”
Fitzpatrick, who will turn 34 Thursday, suffered a sprained left MCL against the Dolphins on Nov. 6 and was replaced briefly by Petty. A week later, Petty made his first NFL start against the Rams because Fitzpatrick wasn’t 100 percent healthy.
Petty’s performance — 19-for-32, 163 yards, one touchdown pass, one interception in a 9-6 loss — had little bearing on this week. Bowles said he knew all along that if Fitzpatrick was healthy enough to play against the Patriots, he would be the guy.
“And barring anything outstanding” from Petty against the Rams, Bowles said, “Fitz would have been the starter.”
Fitzpatrick said he’s “about as healthy as you’d expect a guy to be a couple of weeks after an MCL sprain. I feel comfortable enough to get out there and move around.”
Bowles insisted his decision to go back to Fitzpatrick was “not at all” related to his own job security.
“You know the lifespan of a coach and a player when you get into this business,” he said, adding that he and owner Woody Johnson have “never talked” about his job security or lack thereof.
Bowles also dismissed the notion that the threat of losing the locker room was a factor in his decision.
“Absolutely none,” he said. “Because coaches coach and players play. Our locker room is fine. I don’t worry about that stuff. We support whoever’s out there.”