FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — In one week, Todd Bowles went from seemingly questioning Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hold on the Jets quarterback job to proclaiming “it’s his time.” That’s what a game with four touchdown passes will do for you, especially if you’re an 11-year veteran on his sixth NFL team.
“Sometimes you’ve got to bounce around to find your home,” Bowles said of Fitzpatrick after Wednesday’s practice. “I’ve seen a lot of guys bounce around from practice squads to different teams before they became stars. It was his time. He’s at the right age, he’s got the right mind-set, he’s got the right demeanor, and it’s his time.”
It didn’t appear to be Fitzpatrick’s time after a subpar performance against Houston, his most recent former team, two Sundays ago. It was after that game that Bowles appeared to open the door a crack for a quarterback change, although he backtracked a day later.
Last Sunday, in a 38-20 rout of Miami, Fitzpatrick became the first Jet to throw four touchdown passes with no interceptions since Chad Pennington in 2002. At 33, he’s seen a lot of ups and downs in his NFL career. About whether it is indeed his time, the Harvard graduate deadpanned: “Law of averages would say I’ve got to be getting close.”
He also joked of his many former teams: “I could list them all, but I don’t know if we have enough time.”
Even if it’s not his time, the Jets are clearly Fitzpatrick’s team — for now. Whether they remain so after this season could depend on how he performs in the final five regular-season games, beginning with Sunday’s rivalry game against the Giants
“The rivalry thing is hard for me now because I’ve pretty much been on every team in the NFL,” Fitzpatrick said. “I guess if it’s a team I haven’t been on before, it’s a little less of a rivalry. But I know that this means a lot to a lot of different people around here. It’s the next game for us. It’s one we know we’ve got to go out there and play well to beat a good opponent.”
Fitzpatrick said he is enjoying his time with the Jets and got to see a little of the passion of New York fans when he stepped out to a Rangers game. “When I left, there were a couple chants going back and forth,” he said. “Some animated fans. That was one of my first tastes of maybe some of the hostility between some of the fans.”
Reminded that he threw for four TDs after shaving his mountain-man beard, Fitzpatrick was asked if he was going to do that again.
“I’ll trim my nose hairs,” he said. “Maybe I’ll do that.”