There was good news for the New York Jets fan base for Week 11; they couldn’t lose a game.
Of course, they had a bye week, so they didn’t have a chance to win either, but in a season that has spiraled out of control, not losing for a week sounds like a good thing. But walking into a Week 12 match-up following the bye against the first place New England Patriots doesn’t sound like a fun way to be greeted from the week off.
On Monday, Jets head coach Todd Bowles announced that he is re-inserting Ryan Fitzpatrick back into the starting lineup and naming him and not Bryce Petty as the starting quarterback for the showdown at MetLife Stadium against the Patriots.
Now, on the one side, it’s easy to see why Bowles is making this move. Some feel like he’s coaching for his job given how horrible the season has gone. Either finishing at .500 or above would be the only way to save his job. Putting the experienced quarterback in Fitzpatrick back in could give him the best chance at doing so. After all, Fitzpatrick lead the Jets to a win over the Patriots at home one year ago.
But this isn’t the same Jets team from a year ago and Fitzpatrick isn’t having the same magical season that he was having a year ago. Fitzpatrick is 2-6 as a starter with eight touchdowns to 13 interceptions; numbers that reflect his career as a journeyman quarterback in the NFL as opposed to being the starter who only threw 15 interceptions all season and had 31 touchdowns in 2015 for the 10-6 Jets.
Bowles is making a tremendous mistake in naming Fitzpatrick the starter and is doing Petty and the Jets a huge dis-service in keeping him on the bench. Sure, Fitzpatrick is the starter and has faced the Patriots in the past. We get that.
But how is Petty supposed to get experience if you’re afraid to put him in against key games? Facing the Los Angeles Rams is one thing. Facing the Patriots in November and going up against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is completely different.
If anything, it would give Petty the on-the-field experience needed to enhance further and help his career and if anything, give him the “growing pains” you get as a young player and young NFL quarterback.
We all know Fitzpatrick is likely not coming back to the Jets next season. And at 3-7, it’s not looking good that the Jets will be playing playoff football come January. Bowles and the Jets should be seeing what they have in Petty going forward and if he can be the guy going forward.
Who knows, maybe Fitzpatrick ends up leaving the game (he’s dealt with knee issues) and Petty gets called into relief during the game and we all get to see what Petty is made of against one of the NFL’s top teams.
But until Petty gets to face that kind of competition, he’s not going to get any better by standing on the sidelines next to Bowles with a clipboard and headset while watching Fitzpatrick play.
If Bowles ends up losing his job with the Jets following this season, his inability to figure out the starting quarterback situation could be part of the reason why he’s looking for work elsewhere in the NFL instead of preparing for the third season in Florham Park.