The New York Jets take on the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night in a game that features one team vying for a playoff berth. The Jets, at 3-8, are all but out of it with their best-case scenario being an 8-8 record. That mediocre mark won’t be enough to get them into the postseason regardless of the blind hope some have surrounding New York.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will once again get the start for the Jets despite being one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this season. Todd Bowles has remained insistent on starting the veteran for some reason, despite having two youngsters behind him on the depth chart. Regardless of what happens against the Colts, tonight should be Fitzpatrick’s last start in a Jets uniform. Why? Let me explain.
The Jets aren’t making the playoffs
Face it, Jets fans: Your team isn’t making the playoffs, or even coming close to sniffing the postseason. New York is among the worst teams in the league, and even if the Jets nab a win on Monday night, their playoff chances will be slim to none. Sure, you want your team to win games, but when they’re essentially meaningless, why trick yourself into thinking the playoffs are realistic?
Fitzpatrick has never been to the playoffs, and that’s not going to change this season. In fact, he’ll probably retire without a postseason appearance despite playing 123-plus career games. That’s not necessarily a knock on his accomplishments, because playing this long in the NFL is a huge feat. But expecting him to carry a team to the playoffs is rather unrealistic.
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Fitzpatrick isn’t good
Put simply, Fitzpatrick has been one of the NFL’s worst quarterbacks this season. He has the third-most interceptions, the worst passer rating and averages just 6.82 yards per attempt (25th). As far as completion percentage goes, only two are worse: Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns and 13 picks and he's fumbled it six times in just 10 games. Translation: He’s not very good.
Fitzpatrick had a terrific season in 2015, but he’s nowhere near the player he was last year. He’s making more mistakes, looks lost without the always-reliable Eric Decker in the slot and has watched his connection with Brandon Marshall deteriorate on the field. Not to mention, his alarming number of turnovers has cost the Jets multiple games this season. Bowles needs to accept that Fitzpatrick is a bad quarterback and move on, because he’s not winning the Jets any games -- he’s losing them.
Getty ImagesTom Szczerbowski
Organic tanking works
Tanking is almost non-existent in the NFL. Teams don’t purposely lose to get a better draft pick, and that’s a good thing. Organic tanking, however, is very real. The Cowboys did it last season without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, essentially accepting that their season was going nowhere. They experimented with quarterbacks, played young guys on defense and looked towards 2016. Where did it get them? Ezekiel Elliott in the draft and an 11-1 record now.
The Jets would be smart to do a little “organic tanking,” themselves. Don’t completely mail it in, but give young guys a chance to play. Start Petty or Hackenberg, and if you lose, you improve your draft position. It’s simple. As it stands right now, the Jets would have a top-five pick. If they win Monday night, they’ll drop to No. 7. Win a few more games – which they probably won’t – and that top-five pick will turn into one outside the top 10. That’s the difference between landing a franchise quarterback like Deshaun Watson or an elite corner, and landing an offensive lineman (which wouldn’t be bad, admittedly).
Getty ImagesTom Szczerbowski
Bryce Petty wasn’t terrible in his lone start
Bryce Petty has spent over a year and a half sitting behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, learning the ins and outs of an NFL offense. As a fourth-round pick, that’s more than enough time to hold a clipboard, especially when considering what Dak Prescott has done as a rookie. In his lone start, Petty wasn’t great, but he also wasn’t disastrous. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 163 yards with one touchdown and a pick.
He didn’t put up an eye-popping stat line obviously, but it was against the Rams – one of the top defenses, boasting a stingy defensive line. His interception essentially ended the game for the Jets, but that was his lone crucial mistake. Has Fitzpatrick not made his share of blunders, costing the Jets multiple games? Of course he has. He threw six in one game! The offense may not be as explosive with Petty at the helm, but he could conceivably turn it over less than Fitzpatrick has (third with 13 INTs).
Jets have to find a QB for 2017
The Jets have several questions to answer before next season. Will Darrelle Revis be back? Is Nick Mangold returning for another year? Will Sheldon Richardson be traded? The biggest mystery of all, however, is who will start at quarterback in Week 1. With Ryan Fitzpatrick being on a one-year deal, it’s almost certain he won’t be the guy. If not him, then who? The Jets have two other quarterbacks on the roster in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg – both of whom were drafted the past two years. That seems like a good starting point, but who knows if they’re ready?
One way to find out: play them. Todd Bowles has to stop being stubborn with Fitzpatrick and start either Petty or Hackenberg. If he’s to return next season, he’d be smart to determine if either player is worthy of being deemed a starter in 2017. You can’t find that out if they don’t play, and it will only make the draft next year even more difficult to evaluate. Play Petty (or Hackenberg) and see how they fare in otherwise meaningless games before throwing them to the fire in 2017.