Jets’ QB blames early woes on him­self

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Den­nis Waszak Jr.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the New York Jets’ 3-5 start. Ryan Fitz­patrick points the fin­ger solely at him­self.

The vet­eran quar­ter­back has been bad, benched — and, lately, bounced back.

Fitz­patrick has helped lead the Jets to two straight wins and he knows it’s on him to be a lot bet­ter in the last eight games if New York has any chance of mak­ing the play­offs.

“I think the big­gest thing is that I haven’t played well, and I think that’s where it starts,” Fitz­patrick said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call ear­lier this week. “Of­fen­sively, if your quar­ter­back’s not play­ing well, then you’re not go­ing to play well on of­fense.”

The of­fense is ranked 22nd over­all, up a spot from last week.

The run­ning game has got­ten in gear, with Matt Forte run­ning for 82 yards in a 24-16 win over Bal­ti­more and Bi­lal Pow­ell adding 76.

The pass­ing game, which was such a force last sea­son, has been mostly grounded, al­though Quincy Enunwa has emerged as a le­git­i­mate play­maker in Eric Decker’s ab­sence.

“I think we def­i­nitely played below ex­pec­ta­tions, es­pe­cially speak­ing for the of­fense and my­self,” Fitz­patrick said. “There’s a lot of things that we need to do bet­ter if we’re go­ing to con­tinue this win­ning streak and con­tinue to win games, but I think it’s been a huge dis­ap­point­ment.”

Fitz­patrick went on to say that he’s “proud” of his team­mates’ re­solve dur­ing the rough start — which can only help turn things around.

“I think we have the right guys in the locker room to do it,” he said. “I think that’s what every­body

feels. I think the con­fi­dence is up. Win­ning two games in a row, guys re­mem­ber what it feels like.”

Fitz­patrick threw 11 in­ter­cep­tions in the first six games with just five touch­downs.

Coach Todd Bowles sat him last week in fa­vor of Geno Smith, who didn’t even last a half be­cause of what turned out to be a sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury.

So Bowles turned back to Fitz­patrick, who did just enough — no turnovers — in the Jets’ 24-16 win over Bal­ti­more. He chided the front of­fice for los­ing faith in him, and in­sisted his con­fi­dence was still strong.

“He’s a quar­ter­back, so any time it goes good or bad, the quar­ter­back is the fo­cal point, but there are a lot of rea­sons why we haven’t played well the first half of the sea­son,” Bowles said. “Ei­ther it’s a guy here or a guy there.

“It’s not nec­es­sar­ily the quar­ter­back at all.”

On Sun­day, Fitz­patrick shook off an aw­ful first half in which he was 3 of 14 for 30 yards and re­bounded with an ef­fi­cient fi­nal two

quar­ters in which New York ral­lied to a 31-28 vic­tory at win­less Cleve­land.

It got so bad that even Broad­way Joe him­self took to Twit­ter to plea for Bowles to give sec­ond-year quar­ter­back Bryce Petty a chance. “Who thinks we should see Bryce Petty start the 2nd half?” Joe Na­math wrote. “I know I do. It hurts to say this, but we’re not goin any­where with Fitz­patrick.”

Fitz­patrick brushed off the com­ments, say­ing, “I un­der­stand it, 100 per­cent.”

“There’s go­ing to be a lot of times when peo­ple doubt you or your abil­ity and some­times right­fully so, but if you don’t be­lieve in your­self, then you have no chance in this league,” he said. “I didn’t play well in the first half, but I thought we came out and did a good job in the sec­ond half with three of those drives, scor­ing touch­downs, and a lot of that is just through ex­pe­ri­ence and hav­ing that con­fi­dence and be­liev­ing in my­self that I can get the job done, re­gard­less of the cir­cum­stance.”

Na­math, by the way,

tweeted his ap­proval af­ter the game: “Lousy first half, ter­rific sec­ond half. Nice goin Jets!”

Fitz­patrick fin­ished 16 of 34 for 228 yards with a touch­down pass to Enunwa — and, again, with no turnovers. The fi­nal num­bers were hardly eye-pop­ping, but they’re at least on the right track.

Fitz­patrick won over his team­mates and many Jets fans with a fran­chise-record 31 touch­down passes last sea­son. He re-signed for one year and $12 mil­lion just be­fore train­ing camp opened, sat­is­fy­ing many team­mates who thought the of­fense could hum with their QB back un­der cen­ter. Fitz­patrick’s early-sea­son strug­gles, how­ever, helped put the Jets in a 1-5 hole that he is slowly try­ing to help them dig out of.

“Whether it’s fun­da­men­tals or thought process, whether it’s phys­i­cal or men­tal, I just have to con­tinue to work every day and try to be a bet­ter player,” he said. “I think as I play bet­ter, the of­fense will do the same.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.