In the aftermath of a second straight defeat and a trio of fourth-quarter interceptions by Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets coach and star wide receiver remain “Team Fitz” all the way.
“I’m staying in the ship with him,” Brandon Marshall said Sunday shortly after Fitzpatrick threw three fourth-quarter interceptions in the Jets’ 27-17 home loss to the Seahawks. “Obviously, right now we’re all looking each other in the eyes and holding each other accountable and pushing each other. But at the end of the day,” added Marshall, who made his first TD catch of the season, “I’m going down with the ship with him. Don’t like how any of us are playing — myself, all the starters. We’ve got to pick it up and play better.”
The Jets are 1-3 and their struggling quarterback has thrown nine interceptions in the past two games. Worse, seven of them have come in the fourth quarter. But those glaring miscues haven’t shaken their confidence in their $12-million man.
“I am. Going down. In a boat. With Ryan Fitzpatrick,” Marshall said, pausing every few seconds for emphasis. “OK? You got it? So can you not ask me any more questions about that? I am. Going down. In the boat. With No. 14.”
Instead of taking off in 2016, the Jets’ once high-powered offense has been grounded. And if they don’t regroup quickly, Marshall & Co. may be in serious trouble soon.
With a difficult road game against Pittsburgh on the horizon, Jets players were visibly frustrated — but not defeated.
“I don’t think it’s tough (to remain positive) because everybody in this locker room knows what we have,” said lineman Leonard Williams, who with a sack (No. 4) surpassed his total from a year ago. “I do think we are a little down right now, because we’ve been losing games that we know we could’ve won. That’s been affecting us a little bit. But at the end of the day, we have great leaders and I think we’re going to rally together.”
Bowles’ postgame message to his team was simple: Keep fighting.
“Sometimes you need to fight more than one battle to win a war,” he said. “We fought two battles two weeks in a row and we lost, but the season is not over. We’re 1-3, but we have to grind. We have to get better and we’re going to do that next week. We’re going to get better.”
They failed to show much fight against the Seahawks (3-1), though.
A hobbled Russell Wilson (MCL/high ankle sprains) torched Bowles’ defense for 309 yards and three touchdowns in his first appearance at MetLife Stadium since his Super Bowl XLVIII win. Tight end Jimmy Graham (who has been dealing with knee and back injuries) had six catches for 113 yards, including a 27-yarder.
Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick kept digging the hole deeper for the Jets.
A week after throwing a career-worst six interceptions, he again derailed the offense in the fourth. He made the mistake of testing Richard Sherman one too many times, and Seattle’s shutdown corner eventually made him pay. With the Jets trailing 17-10 with 14:30 to go, Sherman intercepted a pass intended for Marshall. And from there, things unraveled for the Jets.
“It’s Richard Sherman,” Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said. “If you keep throwing his way, he’s bound to get a couple.”
Fitzpatrick — who was picked off by Earl Thomas (on a tipped pass by Robby Anderson) and again by Sherman to end the game — has an NFL-worst 16 fourth-quarter interceptions since the start of last season, according to ESPN Stats and Information. He’s also the fifth player in the last 30 seasons to throw at least 10 picks in the first four games of a season.
Even so, Bowles still believes in him.
“I don’t worry about the questions about his play,” the coach said. “I just worry about turnovers. I know he can’t have turnovers. Some of them are unfortunate and not the quarterback’s (fault), but nevertheless, the quarterback runs the offense, so he can’t turn the ball over. We have to get better there.”
So what’s his confidence level in Fitzpatrick now?
“No different than when the season started,” he said.