New York Jets

McMullen: Maccagnan is the real villain in Jets’ implosion

New York General Manager Mike Maccagnan is all smiles with the 26 - 20 win over the New England Patriots at Met Life Stadium. (Photo by Alan J Schaefer/Icon Sportswire)
(Alan J Schaefer/Icon Sportswire)

There’s an adage in the NFL that if you think you have two quarterbacks, you really don’t have any.

The thesis behind that thought is a time-tested one: a clear-cut starter at the game’s most important position is a necessity for any kind of consistent success.

In New York — or North Jersey to be exact — the Jets are the only team in the NFL with four quarterbacks on their 53-man roster (at least for now) and if you strapped Todd Bowles down and injected a little truth serum, the embattled head coach would admit none of his available options are viable for sustained success.

That said, when you are 1-5, the public scrutiny involved with of a head-coaching job requires some action, even if you know deep down in your gut it’s not going to matter.

So, Bowles reneged on his original plan to stick with struggling veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick after Monday night’s thumping at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals, instead going back to Geno Smith, the one-time starter who lost his job to Fitzpatrick thanks in large part to a locker-room TKO at the hands of IK Enemkpali.

Jets fans, though, have seen the Smith movie before and the chance a B-list title somehow turns into a blockbuster on the re-release is virtually nil.

Meanwhile, 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg looked woefully unprepared in the preseason and cutting short his redshirt campaign in order to throw him end to the deep end of the pool in hopes he will be able to swim is akin to crossing your fingers and hoping the Powerball comes in.

The best QB for the Jets now might be Bryce Petty, but he was just medically cleared after a preseason shoulder injury and likely needs a few weeks to get up to speed.

“(Petty’s) still got some ways to go from his injury,” Bowles admitted.

On paper, the move to Smith is understandable. The Jets have the 32nd-ranked scoring offense and Fitz has thrown for just five TDs versus 11 interceptions.

That alternative is an already-failed trajectory, however, designed as misdirection to convince the fan base that with change comes hope.

And the real villain here is GM Mike Maccagnan, who played hardball with Fitzpatrick during the offseason and robbed a player whose success can be directly traced to preparation of his offseason.

The short-sighted will point to Fitzpatrick’s awful performance so far this season as validation that Maccagnan did the right thing by holding the hardline. After all, no one else was willing to pay Fitzpatrick and, as so many predicted, the veteran has gone into the tank after his career season a year ago.

But, Fitzpatrick is a gym rat, whose lone advantage in a league filled with athletic skill sets is his ability to do the little things better than just about anyone else.

Any by waiting until the last minute to bring Fitzpatrick back, the Jets eliminated the one part of his game that is special — his willingness to work harder than the next guy.

The whole Fitzpatrick situation was really about how the Jets wanted to handle their business.

Did the organization want to stay relevant in the short-term and press for a wild-card spot like they did in 2015 or did they want to admit Fitzpatrick was a limited-ceiling guy and start the complete rebuild while looking for the long-term answer at the position?

The ultimate plan turned out to be straddling the fence and indecision is never the right answer.

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.

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