By Jason Keidel
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Social media is bubbling with “bench Ryan Fitzpatrick” signs.
Gang Green fans are sick of him. After three games, they’re ready to toss him on the bench, grab Geno Smith, who suddenly never got a fair shot at quarterback, and charge into autumn.
Allow me to talk you off the Twitter cliff.
September is rife with gridiron illusions, always the most productive month for Monday morning quarterbacks. We’ve already got Carson Wentz wearing a gold jacket in Canton, Odell Beckham Jr. wearing a straight jacket in New Jersey, and Dak Prescott as the next Roger Staubach.
Forgive the cliche, but bad games make otherwise good teams look dumb, or lazy, or incompetent.
Do you really think the Chiefs are three touchdowns better than the Jets? Are the Eagles really 31 points better than the Steelers? Are the Patriots really the same team sans Tom Brady?
Just before Sunday’s slate of football, I listened to Shannon Sharpe talk about road games in the NFL. When asked which was the hardest place to visit in the NFL, the Hall of Fame tight end didn’t hesitate.
There’s no shame in losing to Kansas City, especially in Kansas City. There is plenty of shame in throwing six interceptions. If he has another game like that, then you have the right to wonder if he was worth 12 grand, much less $12 million.
But you won’t likely see another 18.2 QBR eyesore like that from the Harvard man, who doesn’t need an algorithm to know that the most popular player on any team is the backup QB.
The miracle was that the Jets were only down 14 points for much of the game. In the fourth quarter, the Jets were still very much alive. They held Alex Smith to 237 passing yards, with only Travis Kelce amassing more than 50 yards receiving. Granted, Smith has never been a pyrotechnic passer, or ever confused with Dan Marino. But almost any time you hold an NFL QB under 250 yards you’ve had a decent game, especially when you commit more than a half-dozen turnovers. Even with that inherent handicap, the Jets’ offense played more snaps (66) than the Chiefs (62).
They held the normally rugged-rushing Chiefs to 72 yards on the ground, while gaining 117 yards of their own. The problem, of course, was Fitzpatrick. No one is defending what was easily the worst performance of his — and almost any — career.
But no one can say that they’re shocked by the 1-2 start. What made the first three games so infuriating was not losing the third game, but rather the first. The Jets had the Bengals beat six ways to, yes, Sunday. If Nick Folk had been his normal, solid self, the Jets would be 2-1, with folks dismissing the KC game as an aberration.
Granted, the next month is turbulent, with the next four games against likely playoff teams in Seattle, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and resurgent Baltimore over the next four weeks.
And while any team belches the same weekly bromide — we’re only worried about our next game — this has to be particularly poignant for the Jets. Seattle is not the same, ornery bunch that punches your lights out by halftime. Their starting running back, Thomas Rawls, will miss Sunday’s game. Their Pro Bowl, Super Bowl QB, and undisputed leader, Russell Wilson, has a sprained MCL in his left knee, and his status for this weekend is uncertain.
Even if Wilson plays, the Jets’ have to be licking their collective chops. Wilson relies on his legs more than most quarterbacks, and the Jets have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. Just ask Andy Dalton, whom they sacked seven times in Week 1.
And West Coast teams notoriously struggle when playing on the East Coast, particularly at 1 p.m.
No one knows that better than the Seahawks.
According to an article on CBSSports.com, since 2010 the Seahawks have been outscored 75-0 in the first half of playoff games played at 1 p.m. on the East Coast.
Since 2002, There have been 28 playoff games played on the East Coast at 1 p.m., which means there have been 56 total teams in said games. Of those clubs, five have been shutout in the first half, with four of them coming from the West Coast.
So while West Coast teams made up 19.7 percent of those games, they made up 80 percent of teams blanked in the first 30 minutes.
Why pick playoff teams as source matter? Because they obviously are the best in the league, which means no teams are immune to the travel and time change. So Seattle, which has been more hit than miss this season on offense, should be a perfect tonic for the Jets.
As long as Fitzpatrick remembers which team should catch his passes.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel