FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If Jets fans still are simmering over Ryan Fitzpatrick’s abysmal performance in Sunday’s 24-3 loss to the Chiefs, when he threw a career-high six interceptions that included a four-pick fourth quarter, the quarterback is not dwelling on the meltdown.
“It’s flushed,” he said Monday when asked how long it would take to personally flush the loss. “It’s pretty easy to forget about that one.”
And that’s no bathroom humor from the 33-year-old, who has been around too long to let a game like that get inside his head. If nothing else, Fitzpatrick has mastered the art of moving on to the next game by purging the memory of something like this.
Were it only that easy for those who invest their loyalty in a franchise that has produced far too many similar moments of frustration. Even Joe Namath twice threw half a dozen passes into the arms of opponents. Then again, Namath also gave Jets fans their greatest moment nearly half a century ago, so only an unlikely championship run from Fitzpatrick can erase his nightmare at Arrowhead Stadium.
That the Jets are 1-2 halfway through a difficult six-game stretch is no surprise, considering five of those opponents went to last season’s playoffs. But it is certainly alarming to see Fitzpatrick play one of the worst games of his career 10 days after playing one of his best in a 37-31 win over the Bills.
Of particular concern is what’s going on in the red zone, where Fitzpatrick was so effective last season. He was 3-for-11 for only 6 yards inside the 20, with no touchdown passes and three interceptions. Until last season’s playoff-killing loss to the Bills in Week 17, he hadn’t thrown a pick in the end zone in his previous 37 games.
“I had the two forced balls in the red area (against the Chiefs), and that can’t happen,” Fitzpatrick said. “Obviously, the lesson from that game is you can’t turn the ball over, especially that many times, and expect to win games in the NFL.”
A Captain Obvious statement, for sure, but Fitzpatrick is the first to know his level of play has to improve and remain consistent if the Jets are to contend for a playoff spot. With the Patriots 3-0 despite the absence of suspended quarterback Tom Brady, this is still New England’s division. So realistically, the only way the Jets get into the tournament is via the wild-card route, and the only way that happens is if Fitzpatrick stops throwing interceptions.
“I think the forced balls in the red area are just things that can’t happen and part of that is we’ve been down there a lot this year and maybe haven’t been as productive as we were last year,” he said. “It’s still a matter of taking what the defense gives you. If it’s not there, throw it away. You can’t take points off the board, so those were a couple of things that will kill you, and I can’t do that going forward.”
Coach Todd Bowles clearly has no intention of sitting Fitzpatrick and going with backup Geno Smith. Fitzpatrick still gives the Jets the best chance to win, and giving him the hook — especially so soon after he played so brilliantly in solving Rex Ryan’s defense — is foolish. Only a protracted series of poor games should give Bowles reason to make a change, and Fitzpatrick should be given the time to get himself together.
“This isn’t all gloom and doom,” he said. “Last week, everybody was talking about how we’re the greatest show on turf after one game. The message last week that I tried to deliver is basically you’re only as good as your next game. Now, I wish the (Chiefs) game would have gone better, but we’re only as good as the next game.”
That will be Sunday at home against the Seahawks, who boast one of the league’s best defenses. The core of Seattle’s Super Bowl-winning team from 2013 is still intact, and Fitzpatrick will be challenged in trying to bounce back.
“It’s a hard day for me to come in after we lost that game because of my performance,” he said. “To have to face the guys, it’s not an easy thing to do. It was so bad and there were so many poor things on my part that happened in that game that you want to put it behind you as fast as you can.”