For the first time all season, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t start for the New York Jets. He was sidelined in favor of Geno Smith after a poor outing on Monday Night Football in Week 6 led to Smith getting the starting nod against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7. But Fitzpatrick got another opportunity to step in for the Jets after Smith left the game with a knee injury.
The Jets were 1-5 with Fitzpatrick as the starter. He leads the NFL in interceptions. Still, Fitzpatrick said he thinks he should be the starter going forward.
“The biggest thing in this game in order to last is to have belief in yourself,” Fitzpatrick said. “Because 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.”
Fitzpatrick did clarify that his teammates never stopped believing in him.
Fitzpatrick took over as the starter last season after Smith suffered a broken jaw from being punched by then-teammate IK Enemkpali in the locker room. He retained the starting job this season, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3, Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions and managed to add a fumble. The following week, Fitzpatrick added three more interceptions and another fumble to his stat line. So far on the season, Fitzpatrick has personally turned the ball over 16 times.
That led to Jets head coach Todd Bowles’ decision to name Smith the starter heading into Week 7.
Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said "I probably played better as an underdog, pissed off. Going forward, yeah, I'll be pissed off."— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) October 23, 2016
On Sunday, Fitzpatrick took care of the football against the Ravens, completing 9 of 14 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. He committed no turnovers.
Fitzpatrick said he tried to stay focused on his job despite being benched this week.
“I try to be a professional and do my job every day,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Jets went into the Week 7 matchup against the Ravens with a 1-5 record, and New York desperately needed a win. Fitzpatrick said this game felt different for the Jets.
“This was the first time, where the offense and defense were feeding off each other ... I think today was a good indication, good showing, that we're not done yet,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick had no ill feelings toward Smith despite the fact that Fitzpatrick was demoted from the starting role this week.
“I feel for [Smith]. He's been waiting his turn,” Fitzpatrick said.
The extent of Smith’s injury is unknown, but he is set to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.
"I don't think [the knee] will be anything too significant, but we'll see,” Smith said after the game.
Bowles said after the game that it’s too early to tell which quarterback will be starting next week against the Cleveland Browns, but Fitzpatrick may have boosted the team’s confidence in him with today’s performance.