With Jets at 1-5, Bowles considers changes – even at QB
New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
NEW YORK (AP) Changes could be coming for the New York Jets.
Coach Todd Bowles was scheduled to meet with his staff – as he does the day after every game – on Tuesday night, and switching things up at various positions was on the table.
Including at quarterback.
''We're going to talk about more than that,'' Bowles said during a conference call Tuesday, ''but there's a possibility every week that there will be some changes made player-wise.''
Ryan Fitzpatrick was pulled in the second half of the Jets' 28-3 loss at Arizona on Monday night and replaced by former starter Geno Smith.
Fitzpatrick has an NFL-leading 11 interceptions, and Smith added one of his own in mop-up duty against the Cardinals. Bowles said in his postgame news conference that the Jets would stick with Fitzpatrick for Sunday's game against Baltimore.
Bowles said he revisited his postgame comments regarding the quarterback situation, but insisted that he wants to meet with general manager Mike Maccagnan and his coaching staff before announcing whether or not he was making a change.
''After the game, it's always going to be status quo,'' Bowles said during the conference call, ''because I'm never going to tell the media anything before I meet with my coaches and my GM and the rest of the staff.''
But many fans and media wondered if it might be time to look toward the future and see what Bryce Petty, a fourth-rounder last year, or rookie Christian Hackenberg, a second-rounder, can do with the Jets off to a 1-5 start.
Petty just returned to practice last week, though, following a preseason shoulder injury, and Hackenberg has been limited to scout team snaps.
''It's possible,'' Bowles acknowledged. ''We've still got some stages to go before we get to that point, but it's definitely possible.''
Fitzpatrick was re-signed to a one-year, $12 million deal on the eve of training camp, a move most Jets players celebrated after the veteran quarterback set a franchise record with 31 touchdown passes and led New York to a 10-6 record and within a win of a playoff spot.
But Fitzpatrick has had a rough go of it this season, including a six-interception performance at Kansas City on Sept. 25.
Meanwhile, Smith has tried to stay patient, but he told an ESPN reporter before the game Monday night that he was getting ''antsy'' while being stuck on the sideline as the team struggles.
''I don't have any thoughts on a backup player saying anything,'' Bowles said of Smith's comments. ''They're backups for a reason and if they get a chance to play, they better prove themselves worthy of playing, regardless of who the person is.''
Smith had a good start to his first action of this season in the fourth quarter, connecting on his first four passes. But on third-and-3 from the Cardinals 40, Smith fumbled as he was sacked, but the Jets recovered. He was intercepted by Tyrann Mathieu on the next play.
''He did show some promise when he was in there,'' Bowles said. ''He understood the game plan. He did good for the drive he was in there.''
Bowles acknowledged that his coaching staff will remain unchanged for now.
''We've had success with the coaches and players that we have,'' he said. ''We're not having success right now, in the past four weeks. Some people get rid of people and have success, but some people get rid of people and have failure.
''You have to know what you have and you have to navigate it through and work toward getting better as a team. I think we have those people to do that.''
While the quarterback gets most of the blame, the secondary has struggled mightily, as has the offensive line and the running game, to name a few areas of concern.
The defensive line was expected to be a major force, but it has also not played up to par through six games.
''The effort they're giving is fine,'' Bowles said of the D-line. ''We've just got to clean up some small things.''
But a lot of small issues have contributed to what has been a big mess of a start for the Jets.
And at 1-5, Bowles knows that New York's postseason prospects are growing slimmer with each loss.
''They're not finished, but they don't look bright, that's for sure,'' Bowles said. ''We're just trying to win a ballgame. We've got to take it a week at a time. We're not even discussing playoffs. We haven't discussed playoffs since the season began, actually. We've got to have a quick turnaround and we've got to play better.''
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