Ryan Fitzpatrick’s two years in Cincinnati were forgettable, record-wise. But the experience of replacing an injured Carson Palmer in 2008, and taking the reins of the Bengals offense, is something that has stayed with the 12-year journeyman.
“I took over an 0-5 team for the rest of the year, and I think we got to 0-9. It was tough, but it was one of my favorite years that I’ve had as a quarterback because it was the first time that I had taken over for the remainder of the year,” said Fitzpatrick, who threw for 1,905 receiving yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games as a starter that season. “I learned so much when I was there, not only about the quarterback position, but myself and fighting through adversity. We ended up finishing 4-3-1 the last eight games that year and they turned that into a decent season the next year, and I’d like to think the way we stuck with it, the way that we fought through some stuff — football isn’t always easy — so that was very trying, but also a great learning experience for me.”
At the time, Fitzpatrick didn’t know that eventually he would become a starter again. In 2009, he went to Buffalo as a backup and the rest, well, is history. But the Jets quarterback still credits Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and former quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese for shaping him into the signal-caller he is today.
“FITZMAGIC” VS. THE “OLD” RYAN FITZPATRICK
The Jets veteran quarterback is coming off a career year, throwing a career-high 3,905 yards and a franchise-record 31 touchdowns. But Fitzpatrick often falls into bad habits at the worst time. “Obviously, you don’t want the interceptions,” oach Todd Bowles said. “And you don’t want the turnovers.”
Fitzpatrick had 15 interceptions in 2015, 10 of them coming in losses.
1 p.m., Ch. 2
’EVERY GAME IS CRUCIAL’
The stage is set for the Jets to kick off Week 1 the best way possible: With a win.
The Cincinnati Bengals are one of five 2015 playoff teams the Jets will face in the first six weeks of the season. But a win Sunday would be the first step in proving Todd Bowles’ team can hang with the perennial powers in the AFC.
“Every game’s crucial for us,” said receiver Eric Decker, who caught 12 touchdowns last season. “ . . . We’ve got to be able to come out and establish who we want to be, who we are. And no better way to do it against a playoff-caliber team.”
The Jets — who finished 10-6 last season — are trying to break a five-year streak of no playoffs. And their schedule isn’t much help. Sunday’s opener is the first of only two home games they have in a six-game span. So starting off 2016 with a win will be critical for Bowles & Co.
The Bengals have plenty to play for, too. Despite consistently being one of the best teams in the conference, they invariably find a way to falter in the playoffs. After starting 8-0 last year, they lost in emotional and chaotic fashion to the Steelers in a wild-card game.
THE X-FACTOR: DARRELLE REVIS & CO. VS. A.J. GREEN
Football’s back and Revis Island is open for business.
The cornerback says his surgically-repaired right wrist is fine — and it’s a good thing because this week he’ll have his hands full with A.J. Green. But the responsibility of containing the Bengals’ pass-catching threat won’t be Revis’ alone. “It won’t be just Revis, it will be a lot of people,” Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said. “A.J. is a tremendous player. We’ve got to have 11 sets of eyes, knowing where he is. It’s not necessarily a one-on-one matchup.”
+ “He knows what’s at stake. He’s a Harvard guy so he knows how important this year is for him and every year’s important for us. So we’re happy to have him back. He’s fired up. He’s going to be good at leading the team. He’s a good leader of his guys. I think they respect him. He helps them. But you know, we’ll see.” — Jets owner Woody Johnson on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
+ “What is it? Is it Adam? Is it Pacman? I love ‘Pacman,’ but I have to bust his chops a little bit. I know he said, “Don’t call me Pacman,” but then sometimes on Instagram or Twitter he may say, ‘Pacman.’ I have to figure that out. I’m going to ask him come Sunday what he wants me to call him throughout the course of the game.” — Jets WR Brandon Marshall on Bengals LB Adam “Pacman” Jones.
The Jets will be without suspended defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson for Week 1. The Bengals also won’t be at full strength. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict begins his three-game suspension Sunday.