Jets head coach Todd Bowles has made a quarterback switch, telling reporters today that fourth-year QB Geno Smith will get the start against Baltimore on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, in his 12th pro season and his second with the Jets, had started all 22 previous games since Bowles took over as head coach of the Jets last year. But with Fitzpatrick's and the offense's struggles this season through Monday night's 28-3 loss at Arizona that dropped their record to 1-5, Bowles made the decision that Smith, the Jets starter for 29 of 32 games in 2013-14, will get the start against the Ravens.
"I felt like it was time for a change," Bowles said at his news conference following today's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "We had six games and we didn't play well in five of them. I felt like it was a good time to make a change and see what [Geno] can do. When you have guys of equal talent, an equal talent level, and one's not playing as well, you turn to the other one and that's what I did."
Bowles said the switch was strictly his call and stated that the team's struggles are not all on Fitzpatrick.
"It's all our fault. It's still not Fitz's fault. Fitz is not falling on the sword for anything," the coach said. "I take responsibility, the coaches take responsibility, the offensive line and the receivers take responsibility. I felt it was time for a change. We got up there in the turnover category, not putting any points up, and we're trying to get a spark somewhere, and I made the change."
Bowles also explained why his support for Fitzpatrick was strong immediately after the loss at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"After the game you could've asked me about anybody and I would've said they were going to start," he told reporters. "I'm not going to make a decision without talking with my coaches, my general manager, the players themselves. So you're not going to be the first to know, they're going to be the first to know. Till I watch the film and we have our Monday meeting, that's when I'll make my decisions."
Smith, who completed four of six passes in his first action of the season in the Jets' last drive against the Cardinals, was taken in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of West Virginia. He went 8-8 as a rookie starter, throwing for 12 touchdowns and rushing for six more and leading comeback wins against the Buccaneers in his first pro start and at Atlanta on Monday Night Football.
In Smith's second year the Jets went 3-10 in his starts but he improved in accuracy, passer rating and TD, INT and sack rates. In his most recent start, in the 2014 finale at Miami, he led the 37-24 comeback win over the Dolphins by completing 20 of 25 for a career-high 358 yards and three TDs for a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
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For his Jets career, he has completed 57.9% of his passes for 5,867 yards, 27 TDs, 36 interceptions and a 71.9 rating.
Fitzpatrick was searching this season for last season's magic, which enabled him to throw for a career-best and franchise-high 31 touchdowns and lead the Jets to franchise highs of 5,925 total yards and 4,057 net passing yards as the Green & White rose to a 10-6 record and finished a win short of the playoffs.
He's made 111 starts in his career and has thrown for 24,619 yards with 159 TDs, 127 INTs and a 79.8 rating.