Ryan Fitzpatrick stood by his postgame comments about the Jets brass’ lack of faith in him and again reiterated the depths of his unwavering self-confidence.
“The underlying message there, really, is I believe in myself,” Fitzpatrick said, just days after he was reinstated as the team’s starting quarterback with Geno Smith (torn ACL) now done for the season.
Feelings aside, it’s now time for Fitzpatrick to prove he’s worthy of starting and his $12 million salary. And he knows it.
“This business is based on production,” said the 33-year-old, who leads the NFL with 11 interceptions. “And you’ve got to go out there and produce. That’s what I’m working at right now and that’s what I intend to do for the rest of the year.”
Asked what his confidence is in Fitzpatrick’s ability to limit turnovers, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said: “The same confidence level I had two weeks ago. You make sure that you put him in situations that are good for him. That’s my job.”
On Nov. 5, 2014, the Houston Texans benched a struggling Fitzpatrick before their Week 10 bye and named Ryan Mallett a first-time starter. But after only two games, coach Bill O’Brien was forced to go back to Fitzpatrick because Mallett suffered a season-ending torn pectoral injury. So how did Fitzpatrick respond against the Titans? He threw for 358 yards, six touchdowns — and no interceptions.
Fitzpatrick is 4-1 all-time vs. the Browns, throwing for 740 yards and eight touchdowns on 77 of 126 passing (61.1 percent). He has four interceptions.
Cleveland is known best for the moniker “Believeland” thanks to the recent success of the Cavaliers, the defending NBA champions, and the Indians, who are playing in the World Series. But the city’s good luck has yet to rub off on the Brwons. They’re 0-7 under first-time coach Hue Jackson.
But the Jets insist they’re not fooled by the record.
“We’re not looking at an 0-7 team, though their record says that,” said defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers. “Those guys should have won several games . . . It’s a good football team with a lot of good players.”
Think the Jets’ quarterback situation is rough? Well consider this: The Browns began the week with fifth-round pick Kevin Hogan as their starter and Joe Callahan — an undrafted rookie from Delaware’s Wesley College (Div.-III) — as their No. 2 because third-round rookie Cody Kessler was still in the concussion protocol. By mid-week, veteran Josh McCown (shoulder/collarbone) was cleared to play.
“With their current situation, it forces us to prepare for all of them,” said Rodgers.
McCown replaced Robert Griffin III, who was placed on injured reserve Sept. 12 with a shoulder injury.
The sight of center Nick Mangold (ankle) in a walking boot wasn’t a good sign for the Jets, who have been dealing with injuries on their offensive line all season. In the absence of Mangold, they’ll be forced to start backup Wesley Johnson. “You have a hard time replacing Nick,” said Gailey. “There’s a guy that’s been All-Pro and plays at a high level every week, a highly intelligent football player that manages a lot of things for you. We have a lot of confidence in Wesley, but at the same time, some of those other players are going to have to take some ownership and leadership in this thing as well, so that we get everything communicated correctly.”
There’s just no telling where he’ll line up — and therein lies the problem. “When he’s on the field it is a unique thing,” Rodgers said of Pryor, the former quarterback-turned-receiver. “He’s fast, he’s big, he makes plays. A lot of times we see a lot of jump-ball situations (and) he goes up and gets it. You have to prepare for him at quarterback. You have to prepare for him outside at receiver. You have to prepare for him inside. He’s a hard matchup.”
Jets cornerback and Aliquippa, Pennsylvania native Darrelle Revis also raved about the former Ohio State star, who grew up in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. “I think he’s one of the best athletes in the NFL today. For him to switch It’s good to see us Pittsburgh guys excel in the NFL.”
The Jets gave up only 11 rushing yards against the Ravens. But the Browns are second in the NFL with a 5.05 rushing average and second in the league with 30 rushing plays of 10-plus yards and ninth in rushing yards (844). A big reason? Running back Isaiah Crowell is fourth in rushing average (5.2).
“He is a downhill runner,” said Rodgers. “ . . . Very explosive. Excellent vision, hard to tackle.”
The Jets can counter with Matt Forte. With his 100-yard effort last week against Baltimore, Forte became the sixth player in league history to record 9,000 rushing yards, 4,000 receiving yards and 500 receptions.
“I’m expecting FitzMagic 2.0. That’s what I’m expecting. FitzMagic 2.0 — we need it right now.” — Brandon Marshall on Ryan Fitzpatrick
The Browns are 12-10 against the Jets all-time in their regular season series and 8-6 at home.
Ohio native and former Ohio State Buckeye Jalin Marshall is averaging a league-leading 24.9 yards on kickoff returns for the Jets (among returners with at least 10 attempts).
52: Tackles David Harris (1,180) needs to surpass Mo Lewis (1,231) for second place on the Jets’ all-time leader list. Kyle Clifton (1,471) is No. 1.