29 points. That's about enough to win most NFL games. That's also the total points scored by the Jets offense over the last four games under the guidance of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, if you discount the fumble recovery and long touchdown run by Charone Peake. Four games, 29 points. That's obviously not good. But how bad is it? Let's take a look.
Since Namath's last year in 1976, only one Jets starting quarterback has ever had a four-game stretch in which he played a majority of snaps in each game and the Jets scored less than 29 points over the four-game stretch.
Geno Smith in the darkest days of his rookie year, when he was posting multiple sub-20 passer ratings? Not even close. His worst stretch was 46 points.
How about Mark Sanchez in his darkest days of 2012? Nope. That was his worst stretch, the last four starts of his Jets career. He put up 43 points.
Brooks Bollinger? 46 points. Rick Mirer, 50 points. Ray Lucas, 60 points. Browning Nagle, 40 points. Nobody has come close to 29 points. Nobody, that is, but one man. Boomer Esiason. In 1993, Boomer was brought in specifically to wash away the spectacular failure of Nagle the year before. For a while it worked. And then the bottom fell out. Over a four-game stretch towards the end of the 1993 season the Jets offense under Boomer scored a grand total of 22 points, and never scored more than seven in any one game. Incredibly the Jets posted a 2-2 record over those four games, but the Boomer-led offense was so bad he was briefly replaced in two separate games by the same Browning Nagle who was so atrocious the year before he would never again be a regular starting quarterback in the NFL.
To this day, that Boomer-led breakdown is the only stretch of offensive football in the last 40 years more heinous than the stretch we have just witnessed. No other stretch comes close, and the one stretch that was worse than the last four games resulted in the starting quarterback getting briefly benched not once, but twice -- in favor of the immortal Browning Nagle, of all people.
29 points. It's all you need to know about why Fitzpatrick had to be replaced. It's all you need to know about why Geno Smith, as limited as he may be, will have a difficult time producing worse results. Yes, it's not just the quarterback, it's a team game. I know. But this offense is not without weapons, and for better or worse, the accountability will always fall primarily on the quarterback.
Geno Smith is very likely not the long term answer. He may not fare any better than Fitzpatrick. But... 29 points. That's all you need to know. Fitzpatrick had to go. If Smith manages to be equally inept, then he'll have to go too. But for the time being, only Fitzpatrick has sunk anywhere close to this level over the last 20-plus years. He had to go. 29 points of utter ineptitude stand in mute testimony to that one simple truth.