By Abraham Gutierrez
Monday night’s game between the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals was billed a showdown between master versus former student, as Todd Bowles took on his former mentor in Bruce Arians. However, the end result failed to live up to the hype, as the Cards routed Gang Green, 28-3, putting the Jets head coach on the proverbial “hot seat.”
“We’re 1-5 that’s my thoughts on the season,” Bowles said when asked to assess his present predicament. “We can’t correct the past, we gotta move ahead to tomorrow and move on to next week. All we can worry about is Baltimore.”
Offensively, the Jets couldn’t get anything going, as evidenced by the fact that they were able to muster only a field goal in 60 minutes of play. They would go on to finish the game with 11 first downs and 230 total yards, out of which, 197 came through the air and a whopping 33 yards on the ground.
Trough three-and-a-half quarters, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick missed his mark repeatedly and would be benched in the final stanza after connecting on 51 percent of his passes (16-for-31) for 174 yards, no touchdowns and a pick to earn a quarterback rating of 55.0.
“As an offense we’re just not consistent right now,” Fitzpatrick explained after his team went 2-for-13 on third downs and lost the turnover battle 2-0. “The offense goes as the quarterback goes, so, I’ve got to play better.”
With Fitzpatrick riding the pine, Jets fans thought it was “Geno Time,” as Bowles decided to put in his second string signal-caller just before the midway point in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the decision to make the quarterback change did not pay dividends, as the West Virginia product went 4-for-6 for 31 yards and an interception.
“The game was 28-3 with eight minutes left in the game, we weren’t doing anything else, I just wanted to give him some reps,” Bowles said regarding his decision to bench Fitzpatrick for Smith in the fourth quarter. “Like a relief pitcher and a starting pitcher — if one isn’t doing it this game, this day, you put in the relief pitcher. Fitz will be back next week.”
Unfortunately for Jets fans, things weren’t much better defensively. In fact, Gang Green was also outplayed on the defensive side of the rock, particularly against the rush, which was the lone area where this unit had shined through the first five weeks of the 2016 NFL season. Thanks to Cardinals running back David Johnson, that statistical area is also about to take a dip after this game, as the Jets defense allowed the Northern Iowa product to rush for 111 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns.
With that type of ground support, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer didn’t need to do too much other than limit the mistakes. He would do just that, finishing with 213 yards on 23-of-34 pass attempts and a touchdown.
As a team, the Cardinals registered 27 first downs, went 5-for-12 on third down and tallied 396 yards of total offense. Arizona’s offense also dominated New York’s “D” in the time of possession battle, 36:02 to 23:58, and went a perfect 3-for-3 in red zone efficiency.
Until the next time they take the field, it would be wise for Bowles and his coaching staff to stay away from the newspapers, television and social media. That’s because after Monday night’s debacle, it’s certain that there will be more than one media outlet calling for Bowles’ head on a silver platter.
It’s no secret that the Jets’ second-year head coach has been questioned for his decision-making during games dating back to last season. However, after a 1-5 start, Bowles might want to start thinking about updating his resume. Clearly on the “hot seat,” a lackluster performance against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7 could spell the end of a short stint in the Big Apple.
“We gotta get a spark somehow,” Bowles added. “We’re in games and we’re making too many bad mistakes at critical times, obviously on both sides of the ball. Injuries are gonna happen, that’s not an excuse for us. The guys that go in gotta understand what they’re doing and know how to play football. We gotta make plays, we gotta make a play at a critical time to get us going.”