NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, September 27, 2015, 7:41 PM
Ryan Fitzpatrick is not in danger of losing his starting job but he fails to carry the Jets when they needed him to on Sunday.
As bad as Ryan Fitzpatrick was against the Eagles, he never once had to listen to chants of “We Want Geno,” and probably never will for as long Todd Bowles sticks with him.
“Ryan’s our starter,” Bowles said immediately after a low-energy 24-17 loss to the dysfunctional Eagles.
That says a lot more about Smith and how little regard Bowles and the new regime have for him than it does about how the Jets brain trust has been forced by default to convince themselves they love Fitzpatrick.
The fans? They’ve made it pretty well known how they feel about Smith and will chant for Brandon Marshall to play quarterback – he would fit right in after his dumb lateral, which he said was “probably the worst play in NFL history,” sucked the life out of the Jets – before they would ever chant for Smith.
INSTANT ANALYSIS: EAGLES 24, JETS 17
Smith was back in uniform for the first time since the final game of last season in Miami, the best game of his career, when he threw for 358 yards and three TDs and had a perfect 158.3 QB rating. He missed the four preseason games and the first two regular season games after getting his jaw broken on a TKO in a locker room fight on Aug. 11 with now former Jets linebacker IK Enemkpali.
He stood on the sidelines Sunday without a helmet. He had a wire from an ear piece dangling from his left ear so he could listen to Chan Gailey’s play calls. He never once had to put on his helmet.
“It felt great to be out there,” Smith told the Daily News outside the Jets locker room. “It felt good to run out there and go through all the mechanics of a real game.”
After what Smith put on display for two years, it’s hard to argue for Bowles to make a switch. It’s still way too early to endorse a move. But it’s something he has to start thinking about simply because Fitzpatrick was exposed Sunday for what he’s always been in the NFL: A career journeyman quarterback incapable of putting together back-to-back strong performances or carrying his team, even for one game, which they needed him to do against the Eagles. The unknown with Smith is how he will do playing in Gailey’s QB-friendly offense after struggling in Marty Mornhinweg’s complicated schemes.
The Fitzpatrick Bandwagon loaded up after he played well against the Colts last Monday night, and even though he didn’t have No. 1 running back Chris Ivory and No. 2 receiver Eric Decker on Sunday, he was scatter-armed on so many of his 58 throws.
Geno Smith is back in uniform on the sidelines but nobody is calling for him to get in a game anytime soon.
When the Jets did fight back from a 24-0 deficit to get within 24-14 and then came up with a fumble by Ryan Matthews at the Eagles 41 with 7:23 left in the game, his third down pass was deflected at the line and intercepted. “Kind of got hit, I don’t know if it was my arm or the ball, kind of as I was throwing,” he said. “I moved around the pocket a little bit and I might have created a problem for myself there with the way that I moved.”
Then on the Jets next possession he was intercepted at the Philly 18 – his third of the game and the Jets fourth turnover — on a pass that bounced off Marshall’s hands. After a nice 2-0 start, “now we know we’re not going to undefeated this year,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Jets are the sixth team Fitzpatrick has started for in the NFL. His record is 35-56-1. In his 11 years in the league, he has never been on a team that has made the playoffs. He looks more like a history professor with his bushy beard than an NFL quarterback. He is not built to bring a team back and when it was 17-0 in the second quarter, Marshall was so desperate to wake up his team that he tried an absurd lateral to tight end Jeff Cumberland. It set up the Eagles for a short field 36-yard TD drive to make it 24-0.
It’s unusual for a quarterback to lose his job by injury, but Bowles was clear he was taking away Smith’s job after he got punched out and he’s not giving him a chance to win it back now that he’s healthy. Fitzpatrick is going to have to lose it, which he is perfectly capable of doing.
“I’m not going to let frustration sink in,” Smith said. “You want to play but you’re not.”
Fitzpatrick goes down for a sack while also tossing three interceptions in a 24-17 loss to the Eagles.
He has not spoken to Bowles about his situation. “That’s not really in my control,” he said. “I just got to continue to stay focused and that’s what I will do.”
The only quarterback controversy the Jets have is they don’t have one. They have a huge hole at the most important position. Rookie GM Mike Maccagnan didn’t make an effort to move up for Marcus Mariota, who just tied a rookie record with eight TD passes in his first three games, and there was no long-term veteran solution available in a trade. It will certainly be Maccagnan’s top offseason priority to get the Jets a quarterback.
Now they are off to London to play the Dolphins. If the Jets and Dolphins stink it up at Wembley Stadium as they did Sunday, it could severely hurt football relations with our allies in England.