Change is in the New Jersey air for the New York Jets. Coach Todd Bowles benched struggling starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as Gang Green looks to turn around from a woeful start to the season.
That journey begins against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. The Jets (1-5) won’t be playing a 2015 playoff team for the first time in more than a month, and the Ravens (3-3) are riding a three-game losing streak.
The timing is right for Gang Green to end its own four-game skid, and here are three keys to getting the job done.
Fitzpatrick’s loss is Geno Smith’s gain. The fourth-year passer is getting a second chance to show he belongs as the Jets’ QB1.
Since Fitzpatrick took over as the starter before the 2015 season, Smith has looked modestly better in limited action. He’s 31 of 48 (64.6%) for 296 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions plus a 29-yard scamper.
With a full week to prepare, Smith is in position to succeed against a Baltimore defense that surrendered 403 yards to Eli Manning and the Giants through the air last weekend.
More than meets the eye
To be fair to the Ravens, they got beat twice by one of the most talented receivers in the game when Odell Beckham Jr. scored on plays of 75 and 66 yards. Without those catch-and-runs, Baltimore wins and the Ravens’ pass defense has a decent day.
The Jets have gone for more than 30 yards on jus six plays this season, with the top three by Brandon Marshall and none longer than 41 yards.
Short passes may be enough to move the chains and lead to points, but don’t bank on monster gains.
Oh, there’s plenty of pressure on the Jets this weekend, but they haven’t been applying it themselves to opposing quarterbacks.
In Monday night’s 28-3 loss to the Cardinals in Arizona, the Jets failed to register a sack. It’s past time for Muhammad Wilkerson, who earned a hefty new contract in the offseason, to look more like the pass rusher who tallied 12 sacks a year ago and less like the one with just 1.5 in six games this year.