EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played well in Sunday's 22-17 loss to the New England Patriots, but not well enough for Todd Bowles to commit to him as the starter next week just yet.
The Jets' coach left the door open for a quarterback change again after his team fell to 3-8 on the season. He has often been reluctant to address the quarterback situation immediately after games, but he's also made it clear recently that when healthy Fitzpatrick is his starter.
Now, with the Jets' officially on the brink of elimination and only five games left in the season, Bowles was noncommittal. What he does next is anybody's guess.
"I'll evaluate everything as the week goes forward," he said. "I'm not going to make a rash decision today one way or the other."
Bowles said that "for the most part, (Fitzpatrick) did a good job" on Sunday. He was "efficient," Bowles said, completing 22 of 32 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns. His only mistake came on the Jets' last-chance drive when Patriots defensive end Chris Long stripped the ball out of his hand from behind.
"For the most part, he was efficient," Bowles said. "He didn't turn the ball over until the very end. Offensively, we moved the ball. We just had to find a way to score one more touchdown than they did."
None of that may matter, though, with the Jets four games behind in the AFC wild-card chase with five games to go. Fitzpatrick's contract will be voided at the end of this season, so the Jets may want to get another look at second-year pro Bryce Petty. With a long week before their game against the struggling Indianapolis Colts at home next Monday night, now could be the perfect time.
It would give the Jets an extended look at Petty to evaluate whether he can be their quarterback of the future. And if it fails, it might leave them with a window to take a look at rookie Christian Hackenberg, their second-round pick, too. Then the Jets would at least know what they have on their roster heading into the offseason.
That's important since figuring out who their quarterback will be in in 2017 will be their No. 1 offseason job.
No doubt, Fitzpatrick, who turned 34 on Thursday, understands that situation. He's clearly tired of the questions about it, too.
"I feel like I'm just not going to answer that question anymore," Fitzpatrick said when asked if he's moving forward as if he's still the starter. "I'm going to work as hard as I can, and every time I get an opportunity I'll do the best I can to lead the team."