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Todd Bowles Talks Quarterbacks in Florida

Jets HC Replies to Questions About Fitz, Geno, Bryce and 'Plans B, C & D' at Owners' Meetings

It was time for Jets head coach Todd Bowles to talk of many things, so he did just that in an hour-long interview with Jets reporters outside of the AFC Head Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Owners' Meetings in Boca Raton, FL, this morning.

But we all know what Topic 1 is, and Bowles had a number of interesting answers regarding trying to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick and his quarterbacks situation.

"I think I feel pretty good about it," Bowles said in his first answer to a Fitzpatrick question. "Obviously, we're going to try to sign Fitz back, but we have plans in place just in case it doesn't happen."

A follow-up asked if a tone of optimism was detected in the coach's answer.

"I wasn't optimistic, I was just stating the obvious," he said. "I understand things will work out one way or the other. The season goes on and there are different business decisions made all the time. You hope to get something done and that's the main goal, but if not, you have things in place."

Bowles was asked about contingency plans if Fitzpatrick doesn't return. He provided some history from his Redskins playing days under coach Joe Gibbs and some savvy that he's picked up since even before becoming head coach of the Jets a little over a year ago.

"I don't think it's difficult," he said of his currently unsettled QB position. "It's no different than any other position. We lost our nose tackle, we lost a linebacker. Quarterback is a big position but it's still a position nevertheless.

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"When I was with Coach Gibbs, he won with four different quarterbacks. He had Joe Theismann, Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien. So you learn from that standpoint. And you want everything to work out fine, but if it doesn't work out fine, then you'd better have Plans B, C and D in effect and you've got to still win with those plans as well."

Yet might losing Fitzpatrick still be a setback for his offense that made such great strides last season? Again Bowles politely disagreed.

"In football," he said, "whether it's injuries, free agency, suspensions, you're going to lose guys every year. You'd better know what you have on your roster to step in and play and not miss a beat."

That led to a segment on Geno Smith. Bowles gave a good progress report on the Green & White's former starter who backed up Fitzpatrick in 2015.

"I think he's seen a lot and he understands a lot from a football standpoint," the coach said, adding about the August locker room incident that led to his broken jaw, "He matured, he applied himself, and he moved on from that. He was a team player, he showed up on time, he worked hard. I respect him for that."

Bryce Petty is another QB option, now entering his second NFL season after his prolific career at Baylor and his drafting by the Jets.

"Bryce got better as the year went on, he started to understand it a little better," Bowles said. "We're happy with his progress and we look forward to seeing him do better this spring."

One other plan could be Robert Griffin III, the free agent late of Washington who stopped by the Atlantic Health Training Center recently. The coach gave no indication on a possible signing but said the visit went well.

"He's a bright young guy," Bowles said. "He won the Heisman so I would think he's a good player. He can throw the ball, he got injured, I know that much. When I was studying him full-time, I saw all the plays from a couple of years ago. He played pretty well, then when he came back, he didn't play as well, for whatever reason I don't know. But we had a good visit when he was here."

There could be other options unknown, perhaps not so much in free agency anymore but in the late April NFL draft. But Plan A remains Fitzpatrick. Bowles said he and GM Mike Maccagnan "haven't had a drop-dead date" for re-signing him, and stressed that any timeline the Jets have, "We're discussing this internally and we're not going to divulge anything outside of what we talk about right now to tip it one way or another."

As for the faint of heart, the Jets coach reminded reporters and fans that we're still in the merry month of March:

"It's a business. This takes time. ... We're not playing, we're not practicing, we're not coaching anything, so everybody has the right to be stubborn."

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