FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — At least someone on the Jets believes in Ryan Fitzpatrick other than himself.
In the immediate aftermath of leading the Jets to a victory on Sunday, Fitzpatrick torched the team’s owner, front office and coaching staff for what he saw as a lack of belief in him after he was benched for Geno Smith.
“Sometimes all you have is yourself,” Fitzpatrick said.
Now that Smith is out for the season with a torn ACL, Fitzpatrick is back under center — and still on the hot seat for his oddly timed comments. Receiver Brandon Marshall, though, has Fitzpatrick’s back. On his front.
Marshall wore a “FitzMagic 2.0” T-shirt in the locker room Wednesday. It was a not too subtle symbol of what Marshall hopes Fitzpatrick can do for the Jets, beginning Sunday at Cleveland against the 0-7 Browns.
Less whining. More winning.
“I’m expecting FitzMagic 2.0,” Marshall said. “We need it right now.”
FitzMagic was the brand the Jets created last season when the quarterback was throwing a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes. It was a heady time. This season, Fitzpatrick has thrown six touchdowns and an NFL-high 11 interceptions. He only got his starting job back for sure because Smith got hurt, sparing Todd Bowles a second straight week with a quarterback controversy.
Fitzpatrick didn’t back down from his postgame comments, saying he had no regrets.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I mean, the underlying message there really is I believe in myself, so that’s kind of what I’d even like to get across today. You don’t make it as long as I have in the league and playing on as many teams as I have been in the league — I’ve picked myself up over and over again — without believing in yourself.”
On Sunday, after relieving the injured Smith in the 24-16 victory over Baltimore, Fitzpatrick said: “The biggest thing in this game in order to last is to have a belief in yourself, 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. That’s kind of something I’ve had to deal with before, something I’m dealing with now. I just do the best to prepare and be the best quarterback I can be.”
Fitzpatrick has spoken with Bowles, and the two have put the matter to bed. On Wednesday, Fitzpatrick said he talked with owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan during practice. The topic of their belief, or lack of belief, in him did not come up, Fitzpatrick said. “It was more of just a normal conversation based on how we’re doing as a team,” he said.
Fitzpatrick said he also spoke with Smith, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday and likely has thrown his last pass as a Jet.
“I feel awful for Geno,” he said. “He’s worked really hard, and to see anyone go down with an injury is awful, but to have a season-ending one with the first time he got his shot was unfortunate. I feel for him and we had a good discussion today.”
And if Fitzpatrick stumbles? Bowles said Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg took snaps with the first-team offense Wednesday. One of them will be the backup Sunday.
The last time Fitzpatrick returned from a benching was in 2014 when he was with Houston. He threw six TDs against Tennessee.
Fitzpatrick and the Jets can get well quickly against Cleveland, which has the 31st-ranked defense in the 32-team league. But Bowles pointed out that at 2-5 the Jets can’t look past anyone. “We worry about our own record,” he said. “Ours isn’t too glowing right now.”