The New York Jets decided to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback today, putting him under center for a 3-7 team on the fast track to nowhere. Why was this decision made and where does the team go from here?
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL this season and has less than a 2% chance of being on the roster next season (if he is, this site will be Turn On The Cowboys next September). He is also less than 100% healthy. The Jets are out of the AFC playoff race. So why the hell is Fitzpatrick leading the Jets against the Patriots this Sunday, after already being benched for Geno Smith this year and arguably being benched for Bryce Petty (if you believe he wasn’t healthy enough to play vs. Los Angeles).There is not a good answer. The argument could be made that Fitzpatrick is still better than Bryce Petty and gives the Jets a chance to be more competitive against the Patriots, who will be heavy favorites. The Jets don’t want to risk Petty getting shell shocked in a blowout loss to a vastly superior team and the veterans will feel more confident with Fitzpatrick under center.
Unfortunately, Fitzpatrick still being better than Petty, when he is the worst quarterback in the league, is a bad sign for the long term future of the Jets 4th round draft pick. Petty’s ceiling has always likely been a backup but for evaluative purposes the Jets are doing a disservice to themselves by not getting as much tape on him as possible this season. Guess what, if Petty can’t handle a bad loss to New England? He can’t play quarterback for this team. As for the veterans, nobody is left on Fitzpatrick’s island outside of maybe Brandon Marshall. Players shouldn’t be making personnel decisions, if the Jets remembered that this offseason, they wouldn’t have forked over 12 million dollars to Fitzpatrick to be a crappier version of Josh McCown.
The Jets, who are the only team in the NFL who found it necessary to carry four quarterbacks (don’t worry, they are smarter than everybody else), seem paralyzed by fear when it comes to playing their recent draft picks. Is there concern that if Petty and Christian Hackenberg flop at the end of this year, they will be slammed all offseason for the picks? Are they more comfortable with them remaining looming question marks because they “could” be good (as many who express skepticism over Petty and Hackenberg are frequently told…they could just be Tom Brady waiting in the wings, you don’t know, man).
This decision making comes from a place of fear, that leads to endless two year cycles of losing. Don’t be naive enough to think only Todd Bowles weighed in on this decision. He gets plenty of blame for it, just like Mike Maccagnan and Woody Johnson.You have a coach who doesn’t care about your tank, because a better draft pick is irrelevant to him if he is fired. You have a GM concerned that his two mid round selections will be worse than his 12 million dollar quarterback, the worst in the NFL. You have an Owner who just wants to lose 24-13, instead of 40-10 on Sunday. It equals a perplexing, indefensible decision that we have seen in the Jets recent history. They started Mike Vick as a 2-8 team in 2014. They started Mark Sanchez as a 4-7 team in 2012. You shouldn’t have been surprised by the decision today but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be annoyed by it.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com