Before Jets head coach Todd Bowles demoted quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a backup role Wednesday, members of the team’s front office “made it clear” that they wanted Geno Smith to start, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. Nevertheless, sources told Costello that the decision was ultimately up to Bowles.
Team owner Woody Johnson gave both Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan votes of confidence Wednesday. However, the second-year head coach could face job security questions in the coming months if the team’s skid continues under Smith, per Costello, who writes that Fitzpatrick is unlikely to start another game with the Jets. If Smith stumbles, the team could turn to one of its more recent draft picks, 2015 fourth-rounder Bryce Petty or rookie second-rounder Christian Hackenberg, in an effort to find a long-term solution.
Fitzpatrick and Smith are scheduled to become free agents at season’s end. The younger of the two, Smith, just turned 26 last week and – based on both that and his second-round pedigree – might have untapped potential. The fourth-year man has been subpar during his NFL career, though, having completed just 57.9 percent of passes to accompany 27 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in 32 appearances (29 starts).
Picks have also been a problem for the 33-year-old Fitzpatrick, who’s last in the league in INTs (11) and passer rating (63.4) in 2016. In the latest (and perhaps final) start of his Jets career, Fitzpatrick hit on a mere 16 of 31 passes for 174 yards and a pick in the club’s 28-3 road loss to Arizona on Monday. That dropped the Jets to 1-5, a far cry from the 10-6 mark they posted with an effective Fitzpatrick at the helm last season.
Fitzpatrick expressed disappointment in his relegation to the bench Wednesday, telling reporters – including Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday – that “I don’t like it.” At the same time, he understands Bowles’ choice.
“I haven’t played well. I think that’s the bottom line,” admitted Fitzpatrick. “I’ve been around and been at it long enough to know that when you’re 1-5, usually good things aren’t happening, and it’s not all smiles in the building. So I don’t want to say that I expected it, but it’s not shocking to me that they wanted to change things up.”
With Fitzpatrick on the sidelines, the Smith-led Jets will attempt to begin turning their season around Sunday against the Ravens.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.