Here’s an honest question to the outraged Jets contingent calling for a quarterback change at this moment: Do you want your head coach to be a quitter?
Should Todd Bowles ignore the sliver of hope that remains for his 3-6 team and officially pack it in?
Should he tell leaders Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold and David Harris that this season is lost, so it’s time to begin the evaluation process for the future?
Should he give up?
It’s a mathematical improbability that the Jets will break their five-year playoff drought. I laid their season to rest in the Arizona desert last month, but nobody in that locker room should concede anything just yet. Sure, it’s a longshot that his team will be postseason bound no matter what happens Sunday against the Rams.
The head coach, however, needs to field his best team in the here and now until suffering at least one more loss. So, Bowles’ decision to stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick makes sense.
I doubt that the Jets are going to run the table and finish 10-6, which, by the way, doesn’t even guarantee a playoff berth. It would be a miracle if they topple the Patriots in primetime next week, but Bowles simply will not – and should not – adopt that mindset as the man in charge.
Fitzpatrick does indeed give him the best opportunity to keep their flickering hopes alive. Bryce Petty’s time will come this season, but the veteran signal caller makes the most sense right now.
Fitzpatrick told the Daily News that he has sought second opinions outside the building for his left MCL sprain suffered in last week’s loss to the Dolphins. Pain tolerance isn’t as much of a concern as ensuring that his knee is structurally sound to play.
“There’s certain questions, there’s certain hurdles mentally that I have to get over… stuff I feel in my knee when I’m out there,” Fitzpatrick told the News. “Am I mobile enough that I’m not going to hurt the team? I’m not necessarily going to stand back there and throw bee-bees like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. There’s parts to my game that are a little bit different than other guys.”
Fitzpatrick hasn’t felt any ill effects from a torn meniscus in the same knee suffered during an offseason pickup basketball game in 2007, but he wants to make sure that he won’t be compromising himself or hurting the team by getting out there on Sunday. Bowles has called him a “game-time decision,” but he’s expected to play.
Fitzpatrick’s leadership and toughness should never be questioned. He didn’t miss a game despite undergoing thumb surgery for torn ligaments last season. He took a vicious blow to the head before passing the sideline concussion protocol and not missing a play in Cleveland two weeks ago. He only missed four snaps last week before returning with a knee brace.
“I know that’s the way he’s always been his whole life,” offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said. “That’s how he’s gotten to where he is.”
Petty, the most popular guy in town these days of the promise he offers to a frustrated fan base, waits patiently for his turn. He’ll get an opportunity if/when the Jets lose another game or two.
“I’m trying to be the best teammate I can be and respect my role and respect anything and everything Coach Bowles says,” Petty said. “I don’t forget the time when I was kind of on the bubble of whether or not I was going to make this team.”
Petty eliminated any doubt that he deserved a roster spot by flashing in the preseason. His shoulder injury (on a play that resulted in a long touchdown pass) in the preseason finale slowed his development and narrowed the gap between himself and rookie Christian Hackenberg.
Petty was shelved for five weeks. He might still not be entirely caught up after missing so much time.
“Once you lose it, it’s hard to catch it up in a short period of time,” Gailey said. “That’s probably a grey area question. It’s close, but I don’t know if it’s 100 percent, but it’s close.”
Bowles might not be ready to begin Petty’s evaluation process as long as his team is still breathing, but there’s an air of inevitability about a quarterback change. Still, why should the head coach wave the white flag right now? It sends a terrible message to his locker room.
Bowles is no fool. He knows that he’ll turn to Petty at some point.
“Every quarterback that starts is pretty much going to have an unknown,” Bowles said. “We understand what he does in practice every day and what he did in college. Until you put a guy out there and let him play, (you don’t know).”
Bowles will know soon enough, but he’s not in a rush to give up on this season.
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JETS vs. RAMS, METLIFE STADIUM, 1 PM
LINE: JETS BY 2; O/U: 39 1/2
TV: Ch. 5 (Thom Brennaman and Charles Davis)
RADIO: ESPN 98.7 FM (Bob Wischusen and Marty Lyons); in Spanish on WEPN 1050 AM (Clemson Smith-Muniz, Oscar Benitez)
FORECAST: Milder with plenty of sunshine. High 58 , Low 31
Two bold predictions by Manish Mehta:
The Jets will hold Todd Gurley to under 30 rushing yards.
It’s been tough sledding for the Rams’ dynamic running back in his second season. He’s only averaging 56 yards per game. The game plan is simple: Load the box and let Case Keenum beat you through the air. The Jets’ fourth-ranked run defense is allowing 3.1 yards per carry. Gurley is going to get roughed up.
Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson will have two sacks apiece.
Both defensive linemen were embarrassed after their tardiness took center stage this week. They’ll respond by taking out their embarrassment on a bad quarterback.
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RAMS HOT READ: DL Aaron Donald
The Jets have managed to jumpstart their running game over the last three weeks, but the good fortune could come to end Sunday against a tenacious Rams defensive front, led by first-team All-Pro tackle Aaron Donald .
Los Angeles also features two-time Pro Bowler Robert Quinn on the edge, but it’s Donald who makes the unit go. With five sacks this season, he’s accounted for a third of the Rams’ sack production. And he’s also adept at stopping the run.
The Jets will be without starting center Nick Mangold for the third straight game because of a severe ankle sprain, meaning the inexperienced Wesley Johnson will be tasked with trying to stop arguably the best defensive lineman in the league in Donald. Johnson has been a serviceable replacement for Mangold so far.
But last week in a loss to the Dolphins, the Jets allowed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to rack up a sack and a tackle for loss. Donald will provide a similar challenge to Suh. But Jets running back Matt Forte said Friday that Donald is shiftier than Suh. “He’s very, very hard to block in both the pass game and run game,” Forte said of Donald. “He’s pretty dominant up there. So we have to watch him.”
TRAINING ROOM: WR Nelson Spruce (calf) is OUT. DT Michael Brockers (groin), RB Todd Gurley (thigh), CB Trumaine Johnson (ankle), DB Lamarcus Joyner (back) and Matt Longacre (hip) are QUESTIONABLE.
JETS HOT READ: LT Ben Ijalana
The Jets were dealt another crippling blow this week when starting left tackle Ryan Clady was placed on season-ending IR because of a torn labrum. Clady had been battling shoulder problems all season. But the tear eventually grew so troublesome that coach Todd Bowles said Clady was virtually playing with “one arm.” So now Gang Green turns to B en Ijalana , who spent the first half of the season filling in for Breno Giacomini at right tackle. Ijalana and Brent Qvale split time at right tackle while Giacomini was rehabbing from the back injury he suffered in the offseason. On Sunday, Ijalana will be tasked with protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick’s blind side for the second straight game. Ijalana played all 58 offensive snaps at tackle in last week’s loss to the Dolphins while Clady was relegated to a special-teams role because of his injured shoulder. Ijalana wasn’t beaten for a sack. Giacomini actually had the most trouble. Cameron Wake beat Giacomini twice for two strip sacks in the first half. But Ijalana will have a tougher challenge Sunday against a stout Rams defensive line. He’ll be facing off against defensive end Robert Quinn, who has two sacks this season.
TRAINING ROOM: LB Bruce Carter (quad), TE Kellen Davis (elbow), C Nick Mangold (ankle), LB Josh Martin (concussion) and CB Marcus Williams (ankle) are OUT. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (knee), OT Brandon Shell (shoulder) and CB Buster Skrine (knee) are QUESTIONABLE.
With Daniel Popper
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News