Todd Bowles is sticking with Fitz.
Todd Bowles’ continued stubbornness is only making the Jets’ quarterback problem worse.
After the Jets dropped their eighth game of the season by surrendering a late lead to the Patriots on Sunday evening, the head coach doubled down on his short-sighted approach at quarterback by naming Ryan Fitzpatrick the starter for Gang Green’s next game against the Colts on Monday night.
"There was no decision. I knew all along," Bowles said. "There was no debate."
There was almost no debate outside of One Jets Drive either, because virtually everyone else following along with the Jets agrees: it’s time to start Bryce Petty.
Fitzpatrick actually played well on Sunday — completing 22 of 32 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and a fumble — but it’s irrelevant. He’s had a bad year and won’t be on this team in 2017 and beyond so there’s no point wasting valuable snaps on him. Instead, this choice ought to be about finding out exactly what the Jets have in Petty and/or Christian Hackenberg — two young quarterbacks that the team has invested in — and giving them experience to aid their development. The more this team can figure out what it has in its young QBs now — and there’s no better test than real games — the better informed the front office will be when it makes quarterback decisions in the offseason.
But Bowles is obstructing that path. Despite the fact that the Jets drafted these two quarterbacks in the last two years, Bowles is apparently unwilling at this juncture to place either one on the field out of fear of potentially losing meaningless football games.
"We’re all fighters," Bowles said Monday. "We’re all trying to win every game, whether we’re trying to get to 8-8 or whether we’re trying to be 16-0. We’re trying to win ball games. We’re trying to win."
But winning an inconsequential December football game is not actually the goal. The playoffs, and then the Super Bowl are. The Jets will not be reaching those heights with Fitzpatrick as their quarterback, so it’s time to find out if they have any potential at the position elsewhere on their roster. Bowles isn’t deaf to the argument that the Jets need to think about the future, he just doesn’t want to go down that path yet.
"Bryce is getting better, he got a lot of experience against the Rams, he’ll get more experience as time goes on, just not right now," Bowles said.
The coach admitted Monday that he is not considering next season in any of his coaching decisions — yet. Why not is anyone’s guess.
A possible theory is that the second-year head coach is concerned about his job security and is therefore doing whatever he can to win games now, even at the possible expense of the future. Woody Johnson, if he hasn’t already, ought to assure Bowles now that he is safe so that his coach can make the correct personnel choices for the franchise, rather than waste away valuable time before the offseason.
The one factor that Bowles has knowledge of that the rest of the world doesn’t: practice. He sees Petty and Hackenberg throwing the ball every day. Maybe they’re both stinking it up. It certainly isn’t unbelievable.
"We get looks at them every day," Bowles said. "As a coach you weigh trying to win ball games first, and there’s a time and place that those guys will get a chance to play, just won’t be next week.
That time and place ought to be here and now. What’s the worst that could happen — they lose?
The Jets do plenty of that already.