FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets benched quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last week in favor of Geno Smith.
On Sunday, in Smith’s first game as a 2016 starter, facing Baltimore, he blew out his knee in second quarter while being sacked by Ravens linebacker Matt Judon. So, Fitzpatrick regained his starting job, and helped the Jets to a 26-18 win over Baltimore.
After the game, Fitzpatrick ripped the team’s brass for not believing him.
“When the owner stops believing in you and the GM stops believing in you and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself,” he said in his postgame news conference. “That’s something I’ve had to deal with before, something I’m dealing with now.”
The next day, Jets coach Todd Bowles fired back at the QB, pointing to the 11 interceptions that got the quarterback benched in the first place.
“If pissed off is gonna stop the turnovers, then I’m more than happy to have him pissed off the whole time,” Todd Bowles said. “This is a show-me game. It’s nothing about belief or non-belief. If I don’t do my job or the GM doesn’t do his job or the quarterback doesn’t do his job and the team doesn’t do their job, eventually they’ll replace us all. It’s a show-me game.”
On Wednesday, Fitzpatrick was asked if he regretted what he said on Sunday.
“No, not at all,” Fitzpatrick said at the team’s New Jersey training complex. “The underlying message there really is I believe in myself. That’s what I’d like to get across today. You don’t make it as long as I have in the league, as many teams as I have been in the league, having to pick myself up over and over again, without believing in yourself.”
Fitzpatrick, a Harvard-graduate who entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the then-St. Louis Rams in 2005, now plays on his sixth team. Many thought he’d be working on Wall Street by now. He doesn’t have the best arm or size, but he’s figured out a way to hang around the NFL for over a decade.
After leading the Jets to a 10-6 record last year, the Gilbert, AZ-native landed a one-year contract for $12 million after a protracted holdout. He didn’t get a long-term deal because the Jets brass clearly didn’t “believe” he was their long-term answer.
The 2-5 Jets, trying to claw back into wildcard playoff contention, travel to Cleveland to face the winless Browns on Sunday.
If Fitzpatrick can lead the Jets to a win, he will live to see another start. If not, who knows?