Todd Bowles didn’t need extra time to render his decision.
In truth, the Jets’ coach already had decided Sunday whether to stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick or turn to Bryce Petty next week. He just didn’t feel like informing the media.
Less than 24 hours after the Jets’ late-game collapse against the Patriots, Bowles announced Monday that Fitzpatrick will remain their No. 1 quarterback against Andrew Luck and the Colts on Monday Night Football.
“He’s our starter,” Bowles said on a conference call, adding that general manager Mike Maccagnan is on board with his decision. “No different than anybody else on both sides of the ball right now.
“There was no decision. I knew all along. There was no debate.”
Though noncommittal about his quarterback situation in the immediate aftermath of a third straight defeat, Bowles said Monday: “I just didn’t want to answer any questions going forward last night, only about the game, so I waited till today.”
The Jets (3-8) seemed primed to pull off the upset against the Patriots, but Tom Brady picked apart their secondary — and picked on Darrelle Revis in particular — during the winning nine-play, 83-yard drive. Fitzpatrick outplayed Brady through three quarters and finished the game with a 115.2 quarterback rating, but his lost fumble with 1:43 to play sealed the Jets’ 22-17 loss.
A day later, Bowles insisted the Jets are “fighters,” whether the result is an 8-8 or 16-0 record. For that reason, he’s committed to playing the quarterback who, he believes, gives them the best chance to win. And that’s still Fitzpatrick, who is tied with the Texans’ Brock Osweiler for the lowest quarterback rating in the league (72.2).
“It’s not about Bryce and it’s not about Fitz. It’s about our team trying to win ballgames,” Bowles said. “So right now Fitz is our starter, he gives us a good chance to win. Bryce is getting better. He got a lot of experience against the Rams. He’ll get some more experience as time goes on. Just not right now.”
The Colts (5-6) won two in a row before a Thanksgiving night loss to the Steelers, which Luck sat out because of a concussion. Though still in the concussion protocol, he returned to practice Monday, and coach Chuck Pagano said he anticipates that Luck will play against the Jets.
Unlike Indy, the Jets still are searching for their franchise quarterback. Besides the 34-year-old Fitzpatrick, they have a nascent Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg, who remains a major work in progress.
“We get looks at them every day,” Bowles said. “As a coach, you weigh trying to win ballgames first, and there’s a time and a place that those guys will get a chance to play. It just won’t be next week.”
Bowles acknowledged “there’s a curiosity to all the young guys . . . but that doesn’t mean I’m going to start them all right now. There are a lot of guys backing up right now that probably want to be in games that are not ready to play yet.
“I have a timetable in my head for certain guys that I want to see at different positions. When that time comes, I’ll make those decisions.”