FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The messages come fast and furious — from Ryan Fitzpatrick’s fingertips to the cellphones of his offensive linemen and receivers.
“It’s constant,” Brandon Marshall said. “He’s relentless.”
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There’s no mode of communication Fitzpatrick won’t use. Everything from emails, text messages and video chats are in play when the Jets’ quarterback has something to say. But the barrage of messages are anything but annoying, and they may be the key to understanding the bond between Fitzpatrick and Marshall, who have spent the past decade searching for the right NFL fit.
“If it wasn’t for him, man, there’s no telling where we’d be right now,” Marshall said of Fitzpatrick, who threw for a season-high 390 yards and two touchdowns for a 107.9 passer rating in Sunday’s 23-20 overtime victory over the Giants. “So, I’m really honored to play with him.”
And the feeling is mutual.
“He’s great,” Fitzpatrick said of his star receiver. “He’s a very easy guy to throw to, and part of it is his physicalness and part of it is just his smarts. He has great awareness out there.”
Between them, they’ve played 257 games for 10 different teams, six for Fitzpatrick. Neither has made the playoffs. But now, with Fitzpatrick leading the charge, the Jets are 7-5 and their postseason hopes are still alive.
“At a certain point in your career, if you’ve played long enough, you find a calm and peace within yourself,” coach Todd Bowles said of the pair. “You grow as a person. You understand what team is. You understand what winning is. I think those two hit it at the right time.”
Fitzpatrick, 33, was supposed to be the guy charged with helping to groom incumbent Geno Smith. But when IK Enemkpali’s punch broke Smith’s jaw in training camp, Fitzpatrick was tabbed to be the starter. He immediately went to work building a rapport with teammates, especially Marshall.
“[I] moved in with Geno. Then Ryan got the ball, moved in with Ryan,” Marshall joked, when asked how the two developed chemistry so quickly.
Truthfully, communication has been the key, Marshall said. Especially of late. Shortly after games, Fitzpatrick and his teammates start texting. By Monday, they’ve moved on to discussing the next opponent and Fitzpatrick has begun sending messages with video clips.
“Technology, back in 2005, wasn’t the same as it is today. I used to send stuff on my beeper,” Fitzpatrick joked. “I send individual clips [to Marshall and Eric Decker]. But there is a great o-line group text, but that’s usually not about football.”
Marshall said this was a common practice between him and his former quarterbacks — Chad Pennington, Chad Henne and Josh McCown. But something just feels different on the Jets, he said.
“The great teams really love each other and care about each other,” Marshall added. “Talent only takes you so far. And that’s what I love about this group right here. Not only in this locker room but all throughout this building. It’s the chemistry and the love.”
Off the field, the bearded quarterback and his rock star-styled receiver couldn’t be more different. But between the white lines, they’re similar “competitive-wise,” Bowles said.
“Fashion-wise,” he added, “I would say they differ quite a bit.”