His team had won, and he had thrown two touchdown passes and turned in arguably his steadiest performance of the season.
But there was no smile on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s face when he met with the media after the Jets’ 30-10 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
After a season in which he was benched twice and probably had the worst contract year in the history of contract years, Fitzpatrick’s mood was more wistful than celebratory. The likelihood was that this would be his last postgame interview in a Jets locker room, and he clearly knew that. What he seemed to be grasping for, however, was a reason that it had all fallen apart.
“It was a season I came in with high expectations,” Fitzpatrick said. “I didn’t meet my own expectations or anyone else’s, probably. But mine are probably higher than everybody else’s. So there’s some disappointment there. But that’s just the way it went.”
The way it went is that Fitzpatrick entered the season believing that he was something that he probably wasn’t.
For the first 10 years of his career, he had no pretensions of being an elite quarterback. He was the journeyman from Harvard who had bounced around to six different teams without ever finding a place he could call home. And he was OK with that. He made a good living and a lot of friends in different places, and he seemed pretty happy with the career he had carved out.
And then 2015 happened. In his first season with the Jets, Fitzpatrick put up monster numbers, totaling 3,905 passing yards, 335 completions, 31 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.
After a big-time year, he thought he deserved some bigger-time money. The Jets weren’t so sure. After a protracted contract standoff, he finally signed a one-year, $12-million deal in July.
Little has gone right since. The Jets went 5-11 and were 3-8 in games started by Fitzpatrick, who finished with 12 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.
He initially was benched for Geno Smith after the Jets got off to a 1-5 start. He quickly regained his job when Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury but then was replaced by Bryce Petty. He started Sunday’s finale because Petty suffered a shoulder injury last week.
Against the Bills, Fitzpatrick completed 20 of 30 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“It was fun to go out on a winning note after how the season has been,” he said.
Fitzpatrick isn’t sure what the future has in store, and he was in no mood to look past Sunday’s win.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with what goes on here, with what goes on in my career,” he said. “I don’t want to speculate about it.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s production had a steep decline this season after a career year in 2015:
335 Comp. 228
562 Att. 403
3,905 Yards 2,710
59.6 Comp. % 56.6
31 TDs 12
15 INTs 17
88.0 Rating 69.6