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Palladino: Jets’ Fitzpatrick Making Bowles And Maccagnan Look Brilliant

Testosterone Decanoate says: Palladino: Jets’ Fitzpatrick Making Bowles And Maccagnan Look Brilliant

Journeyman QB Has Forgotten More About Football Than Smith Will Ever Know

Despite their best efforts to honor their recent past, the Jets might just have gotten this one right.

Handing Geno Smith the starting quarterback job, all gift wrapped with flashy paper and a big, green bow, most likely would have left Todd Bowles with a weekly controversy, or at least with an image of a well-meaning man overcome by the viral incompetence that affected everyone in the franchise the last four years of the Rex Ryan era.

But somebody upstairs had the foresight to sign up this really smart, Harvard-trained journeyman named Ryan Fitzpatrick. He never did challenge Smith for the regular gig because Bowles didn’t set up training camp for an open competition. But the moment IK Enemkpali’s fist landed on Geno’s jaw, Fitzpatrick was right there to take over.

The way things stand, with the Jets 2-0 after Monday’s 20-7 win in Indianapolis, Bowles would have to be off-the-wall crazy to even consider switching back to a quarterback who figured a $600 transportation bill was worth a crack in the face.

Smith must know it, too. A look at that quick, second-half camera shot of Smith gazing on from the sidelines showed a man well aware that he was watching his Jets career melt away, one play at a time.

As long as Fitzpatrick stays healthy, Smith will never step beyond the boundary again. Not as a Jet, anyway.

The beauty of it is, all Bowles has to do is step back and leave Fitzpatrick in the hands of Chan Gailey. The offensive coordinator and quarterback will take care of the rest, just as they have the past two games.

The story Monday was the defense, of course. And there is no doubt re-signing the Darrelle Revis-Antonio Cromartie tandem will go down as Mike Maccagnan’s highlight stroke of brilliance. But really, after John Idzik made such a mess of both the offensive and defensive roster, one could also consider it an obvious move. Hmm. Reuniting the best secondary the Jets have ever known? The GM would have been tagged an Idzikian disciple if he hadn’t.

All it took was money.

The rebuilt secondary has already helped the takeaway-challenged defense of last year transform itself into a pack of thieves, all led by the Artful Dodger Revis’ pick and two fumble recoveries from Monday. If they add another four or five turnovers to their current total of 10, they’ll blow past their entire 2014 total of 13.

But again, that was the easy decision. The hard one was getting Fitzpatrick, the 11th-year veteran who has never stuck in one place very long. Six teams since 2005, four in the last four years.

Matching him up again with Gailey, his old coach in Buffalo, offered the quarterback a chance to relive his two best years. Maccagnan and Bowles summoned up enough faith in Fitzpatrick to trade for him.

When Smith hit the floor, Bowles needed only to say, “Next man up.”

Luckily, the next man had a head filled with football IQ, a mind that has forgotten more than Smith will ever learn.

It showed Monday. Of the 34 passes he threw, 21 went to either Eric Decker or Brandon Marshall. All but six were completed for a combined 198 yards and two touchdowns.

Smart. Find your two best receivers and keep them busy.

They were not spectacular throws. Marshall made a spectacular grab before muscling his way into the end zone on the final touchdown, but the pass itself was simply catchable. Same with most of his other passes. Fitzpatrick doesn’t trade in highlight reel stuff; just good, solid decisions.

He’s also not the kind who is going to throw up four touchdowns on a weekly basis, either. The four he has collected in two games is more like it. But he is good enough to get a lead and protect it. Bowles won’t see a lot of silly throws and extreme chances out of this guy.

He won’t run the read-option. The only way splitting him out in a Wildcat will work is if the defender collapses in hysterics.

Gailey doesn’t do that stuff, anyway.

Fitzpatrick will give them a chance to win, something Smith did far too little of during his turn.

With a powerful defense to keep the score down, a quarterback like Fitzpatrick is all the Jets need for now and beyond. And when it’s all said and done, the pundits might say that signing Revis and Cromartie made Maccagnan and Bowles look great.

But signing Fitzpatrick made them look brilliant.

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