Ryan Fitzpatrick went belly-up on Wednesday. After an eyebrow-raising flip-flop from Todd Bowles, the Jets decided to bench The Artist Formerly Known As Fitzmagic in favor of Geno Smith. This was something of a cosmic joke for Jets fans certain they’d already boarded the GenoCoaster for the final time.
The seeds for Fitzpatrick’s demise were planted back in Week 3. The Jets flew to Kansas City on a high, coming off a Thursday night win over the Bills in which their quarterback played like a better-educated Joe Namath. Seriously, I invite you to watch the Game Pass footage. Fitzpatrick was an outrageous mad bomber. Unfortunately for the Jets, it turned out to be a mirage. Against the Chiefs, Fitzpatrick suffered a six-interception meltdown and never recovered.
Anyone still doubting Terrelle Pryor isn’t watching him play. The massive-bodied Browns receiver piled up 101 yards playing primarily against Darrelle Revis. The Jets cornerback found out what NFL defenses have discovered week after week: Pryor makes plays no matter who he faces. The quarterback-turned-wideout crossed the 100-yard barrier with three-plus minutes left in the first half, but disappeared along with the rest of Cleveland’s offense down the stretch. While elements of his game still require refinement, Pryor’s performance won’t stop the questions around the spotty play of Revis.
With strong-armed Josh McCown at the helm, coach Hue Jackson leaned hard on the vertical passing game, throwing the ball 20 times over Cleveland’s first 25 plays to help forge a 20-7 lead at the half. McCown picked up where he left off in Week 2, ripping through New York’s secondary for completions of 35, 32, 32, 24, 18, 17 and 15 yards. The offense vanished in the second half, though, with two straight punts before McCown — 25 of 49 for 341 yards and two scores — tossed back-to-back fourth-quarter picks to refocus Cleveland’s attention on what really matters today: the Indians.
Poor Smith. At this point, if the coaches are still making him “earn it” after he carried everyone through minicamp while they openly pined for Fitzpatrick during the holdout, he might be better off pulling a successful version of Sam Bradford’s Philadelphia escape plan. For what it’s worth, reporters on the scene Sunday had him taking more reps than Petty, and perhaps this is just an overreaction to a vague comment from a busy coach. Wherever Smith goes, he probably won’t be guaranteed a backup job. He’s a quarterback with a lifetime completion percentage below 60 and a negative touchdown-to-interception ratio (27-35). But maybe he goes to a place where someone has his back.
We’re not blaming Bowles or the Jets for this. Bowles and cheap nhl jerseys and general manager Mike Maccagnan did not draft Smith and loaded the depth chart with drafted quarterbacks they believe adequately fit the system. But in the NFL, we hear coaches and GMs talk about doing things in the best interest of the team and the player. If Smith isn’t going to back up Fitzpatrick, keeping him on the roster is in neither party’s interest.
“So, I’ve done enough. Obviously, everybody’s a little bit concerned because that’s not what I’m displaying anymore. I can’t stay 24 (years old) forever. Every player ages in this game. You’ve got to understand that. Now, can I still play? Yes, I can still play. This game is a love for me. It’s like a girlfriend. And we’ve been dating for a long time — many years. She’s been great to me and I appreciate it. I love my girlfriend.”
Perhaps taking advantage of a cathartic moment, Revis spoke at the tail end of a season that has undoubtedly been his worst. The Jets’ secondary has been routinely torched and the 31-year-old is carrying a salary-cap number of more than $15 million for the 2017 season. The Jets will almost certainly need to do something to address the problem. Revis and coach Todd Bowles have been asked many times about a potential move to safety.
Since being cut by the Buffalo Bills in 2014, Spiller has failed to find footing with three teams in two seasons. The back spent 2015 with the Saints before being cut by the team following their Week 1 loss to the Raiders. Since then, Spiller has earned just 12 touches for 68 total yards this season with the Seahawks and Jets. The back’s yards per return average is at a career low (20.3).
The 29-year-old running back said when he signed with the Jets, “I know I’m a great player. I know I can play in this league.” Now he’ll have to prove it with yet another organization.
Gang Green was blown out by the Colts by a score of 41-10, a final tally that still somehow failed to portray how one-sided this game was. The Jets fans who did show up — MetLife Stadium featured around 20,000 empty seats at kickoff — were treated to one of the worst efforts by the home team in recent memory.
Those poor fans. These are loyal people who bundled up on a cold December night and just wanted something to cheer about in the back end of a lost season. ESPN — who had the fortune of broadcasting the Jets being outscored 69-13 in two MNF affairs this season (ratings gold!) — devoted extensive airtime to depressed fans as the game dragged on.