Todd Bowles threw the Jets’ quarterback situation into chaos Tuesday when he backtracked on whether Ryan Fitzpatrick will start Sunday. He also said it’s “definitely possible” Bryce Petty or even rookie Christian Hackenberg could play later this season if the losses continue to pile up.
In the immediate aftermath of the Jets falling to 1-5 with a 28-3 loss at Arizona on Monday night, Bowles said Fitzpatrick would remain the starter Sunday against Baltimore.
But in a conference call Tuesday, Bowles would not make the same guarantee. He also praised Geno Smith, who relieved Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter and completed 4 of 6 passes for 31 yards and threw an interception in his only series.
If the Jets defensive backs backpedaled as well as Bowles did Tuesday, they might be able to cover somebody.
“First of all, after the game, it’s always going to be status quo,” Bowles said. “I’m never going to tell the media anything before I meet with my coaches and my GM and the rest of the staff. So everything is status quo until we have our meeting. But (Smith) did show some promise when he was in there. He understood the game plan. He did good for the drive he was in there.”
Bowles was referring to a meeting he was set to have with his assistants Tuesday night in which they would go over more than just the quarterbacks. But everyone who cares will be waiting to learn whether Fitzpatrick or Smith will start Sunday.
“We’re going to talk about more than that,” Bowles said. “But there’s a possibility every week that there will be some changes made, as far as player-wise. When I discuss it with the staff, when they know, everybody else will know.”
Fitzpatrick was 16-for-31 for 174 yards and one interception against the Cardinals. For the season, he has five touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and a league-low 63.4 quarterback rating.
After the game, Bowles said: “Fitz will be back next week. It definitely wasn’t Fitz’s fault. He barely had any time to throw.”
Fitzpatrick is signed only through the end of the season, as is Smith. If the Jets continue to lose, Bowles said he wouldn’t rule out playing one of the other two quarterbacks on the roster.
Smith, who played one game in relief of an injured Fitzpatrick last season, stalked the sideline during Monday’s game and told an ESPN reporter it was hard for him to not be playing when the team is struggling.
“I don’t have any thoughts on a backup player saying anything,” Bowles said. “They’re backups for a reason. If they have to play, they better prove themselves worthy of playing regardless of who the person is.”
As far as Petty and/or Hackenberg, Bowles said it’s too early to think about using either. “It’s possible,” he said. “We’ve still got some stages to go before we get to that point.”
Bowles said it was difficult to assess how Petty has looked in practice because he has been back only a week from a bruised shoulder.
Of Hackenberg, he said: “Hackenberg’s been throwing the ball with a lot more confidence on the scout teams and he’s been getting some valuable experience.”
It’s unlikely Bowles will turn the team over to either neophyte unless the bottom falls out on the season. Which it might.
Of the Jets’ playoff chances, he said: “They don’t look finished, but they don’t look bright, that’s for sure. We’re trying to win a ballgame. We’ve got to take it a week at a time. We’re not discussing playoffs. We haven’t discussed playoffs since the season began, actually.“