Ryan Fitzpatrick, not Christian Hackenberg, will start Jets’ season finale vs. Bills

Ryan Fitzpatrick

If you wanted to see Jets rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg start Sunday’s season finale against the Bills, coach Todd Bowles had bad news for you Tuesday.

He said Ryan Fitzpatrick will start the game, and that barring an injury, Hackenberg would not play — maybe unless the score is out of hand late.

“I’ll see how the game goes,” Bowles said. “He might or he might not.”

Should Jets fire Todd Bowles?

Fitzpatrick will be a free agent after this season, and there is zero way he is back with the Jets in 2017. The Jets are 4-11, so why not let Hackenberg play Sunday?

Bowles said there is nothing to be gained from putting Hackenberg in the game.

“We’re not going to gain or lose nothing by looking at Christian, or not, in this game,” Bowles said. “Anybody who hasn’t played won’t be ready until they play. But you don’t leapfrog people to start playing.

“It doesn’t mean anything, plus or minus, that we’re not playing him this year. We had a plan for him, going in, when we drafted him. Putting him in right now isn’t going to hurt or help him.”

Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, currently a second-year pro, will be with the Jets next season. They’ll probably also sign a veteran quarterback this offseason.

But Petty is no longer an option to start this year because he sustained a torn shoulder labrum in last week’s 41-3 loss at the Patriots, ending his season. Petty will require surgery, Bowles said.

The Jets started Petty for the past three games, to get an evaluation of him for the future. He threw one touchdown and four interceptions and had a 60.2 quarterback rating in those three games — not exactly impressive stuff.

Hackenberg has been inactive for every game this season. He will be active as the Jets’ No. 2 quarterback Sunday against the Bills, because they have no other options. Fitzparick and Hackenberg are the Jets’ only healthy quarterbacks.

The Jets drafted Hackenberg in Round 2. During the preseason, he looked very much like a raw, project quarterback who has a long way to go.

Going into the season, the Jets planned to have Hackenberg sit, watch, and learn for all of 2016. And unless Fitzpatrick gets hurt against the Bills, it sure looks like Hackenberg indeed will not play as a rookie.

“The idea was to put him on the shelf, regardless, and let him get better, going in,” Bowles said. “He can use some mechanical work, and he got better as the year went on. That’ll only show in the game.

“But to put him out there the last game and say, ‘oooh, his mechanics are great or his mechanics are bad,’ doesn’t make any sense either.”

Meanwhile, the Bills, for Sunday’s game, have benched quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of EJ Manuel.

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