Reaching into the Week 12 mailbag for a New York Jets question:
@RichCimini: Let's put it this way: If Ryan Fitzpatrick has a third straight bad game and they don't bench him, it'll confirm how they feel about Geno Smith. It would be a "Fitz-or-bust" message, rendering Smith to "Dead Man Walking" status.
That said, I think we have a a pretty good idea about the gap between Fitzpatrick and Smith. It would have to be a really bad game for them to put Fitzpatrick on the bench. If they turn to Smith, it's basically a Hail Mary.
The bigger question: How do they help Fitzpatrick out of his slump? I asked the question this week to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, and he mentioned how they've taken a lot of unsuccessful deep shots in recent weeks. I interpreted that as Gailey saying they're going to get back to a short, low-risk passing attack. We all know Fitzpatrick isn't a great deep passer; the coaching staff apparently got the memo. On throws of at least 25 yards in the air, he's only 4-for-32, the lowest completion percentage in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. When he makes a good throw, someone drops it. (Yes, this means you, Devin Smith.)
If the Jets do indeed scale back the passing attack, it tells me they're committed to player over scheme. If they were hellbent on throwing downfield, they'd go to Smith, who has a stronger arm and probably would connect on a higher percentage of deep passes than Fitzpatrick. But they want to make it work with FitzMagic, whose leadership and knowledge of the offense provides a comfort level with Gailey and the players around him.
Todd Bowles is the X factor. Remember, he was prepared to go into the season with Smith as his starter -- before IK Enemkpali's fist entered the picture -- so he must have seen something in Smith to think he could start. Has time eroded his confidence in Smith?
If the Jets are 5-6, Bowles has to ask himself this question: Which quarterback gives us the best chance to beat the New York Giants? My feeling is to ride it out with Fitzpatrick until you're mathematically eliminated. At that point, skip Smith and go directly to rookie Bryce Petty, playing for the future.