FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick’s confidence has not wavered.
Not by the nine interceptions in his last two games. And certainly not by the fans and media suggesting the New York Jets consider making a change at quarterback.
The Jets are 1-3 and Fitzpatrick realizes he’s a major reason for the stunningly bad start. He also insists that he’s the best option for New York to turn its season around, with tough road games at Pittsburgh and Arizona coming up.
“I know I’m the right guy for it,” Fitzpatrick said Monday. “We found ourselves in a little slump last year and came out of it. Through all my experience and all the things I’ve been through in my career, I know I’m the right guy to get this thing headed in the right direction.”
Fitzpatrick threw three more interceptions Sunday in a 27-17 loss to Seattle, causing many of the fans who cheered his return in July to question why New York ever brought him back in the first place.
“The last two games, with the amount of turnovers that I’ve had, you’re not going to win football games that way and I know that more than anybody,” Fitzpatrick said. “So, I take full responsibility for all those.”
He set a franchise record with 31 touchdown passes last season, bringing the Jets from a mediocre 5-5 mark to a 10-6 finish. But needing a win to reach the postseason, Fitzpatrick was intercepted on each of New York’s final four possessions at Buffalo in a 22-17 loss.
“I think it’s a new season, but you can kind of draw on some of those experiences, I guess,” Fitzpatrick said. “If you go back and look at last season with that five-game stretch, why did we play the way we did? Not just as an offense, but as a team. How did we come together and play well? Hopefully, we can pull a little bit from that experience. It’s a new year with new challenges.”
Fitzpatrick was re-signed by the Jets just before training camp opened, ending a contract stalemate in which a free-agent market never materialized for the 33-year-old quarterback. After all, he has been a career journeyman, but a terrific season in Chan Gailey’s offense had expectations high — at least enough to justify the one-year, $12 million deal New York gave him.
So far, though, things have been rough — other than a fantastic performance against Buffalo in Week 2, when he threw for 374 yards and was selected the AFC offensive player of the week.
“I’ve got to play better,” Fitzpatrick said.
Talk about an understatement.
Still, the Jets are sticking with Fitzpatrick.
“We’ll go game by game,” coach Todd Bowles said. “I don’t foresee any change right now.”
When asked if Fitzpatrick could be on a short leash against Pittsburgh on Sunday, Bowles simply said: “Ryan’s fine.”
Fitzpatrick has thrown 10 interceptions for the season, but Bowles says he’s still the Jets’ top option. That means former starter Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg will continue to stay on the sideline.
“Right now, it’s chemistry,” Bowles said. “Obviously, everybody’s got an arm and can throw the football. But based on what he did last year, going into the season from a confidence standpoint, he’s our best chance to win.”
Fitzpatrick earned respect from his teammates for galvanizing the locker room after Smith’s jaw was broken by a punch from a teammate. The veteran assumed the starting role and never relinquished it, going on to one of the finest seasons by a Jets quarterback.
It was that performance that produced a very real loyalty to Fitzpatrick, who had receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, among others, openly campaign in the offseason for the Jets to bring him back this year.
Marshall came to his quarterback’s defense again after the loss to Seattle, saying that he’s, “Going down. In a boat. With Ryan Fitzpatrick.” The receiver said Monday that he’s not happy with Fitzpatrick’s play or his own, or the rest of the team’s play, for that matter. But he believes Fitzpatrick and the Jets can get the season back on track before it spirals away just a few weeks in — a sentiment shared by the embattled quarterback.
“We’re not going to have some magical players come in and fix everything,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have to do it ourselves every day, starting today with making the corrections and working on the communication and then continuing Tuesday, watching some film, and Wednesday with practice.
“We’re all in this together. We just have to continue to work at it.”
NOTES: Bowles was asked if things might need to be simplified for the secondary, which has had big coverage breakdowns in each game. “They’re about as simple as they could be,” he said, before adding, “That’s alarming.” … C Nick Mangold was angry about an illegal block by Seahawks DE Michael Bennett, who was penalized for the blindside hit, during Richard Sherman’s interception return in the closing moments of the game. “I don’t have feelings on him — I don’t know him — but I have feelings on that play,” Mangold told reporters. “It was a dirty cheap shot.”
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