Ryan Fitzpatrick’s assessment of the Jets’ season was as blunt as could be.
“It’s been a huge disappointment,” he said of being 3-5.
And now there’s only one thing left to do, he said.
“As the season goes on, your expectations change a little bit,” the quarterback said on a conference call Monday. “And being 3-5, and not sitting undefeated or in great shape in terms of our record, we’ve got to change expectations. And expectations for us are: We’ve got to win them all. That’s what we hope to do.”
The Jets are a long way from a playoff hunt, but their spirits are buoyed by back-to-back come-from-behind victories over the Ravens and Browns. It’s their first winning streak of the season, and Sunday’s victory in Cleveland included 24 unanswered points in the second half.
“Obviously, nobody thought we’d be at this 3-5 mark,” linebacker David Harris said. “But guys keep fighting and we’re still playing hard and we’re still going to grind this thing out to the end.”
“We have the right guys in the locker room to do it,” added Fitzpatrick, who was a driving force behind the Jets’ five-game winning streak late last season, when they finished 10-6 and barely missed the playoffs. “I think that’s what everybody feels. I think the confidence is up . . . Whether we win them all, we better expect to win every single game we play.”
The Jets came dangerously close to not beating the winless Browns, falling behind 20-7 at halftime. Before Sunday, when trailing by 13 or more points at halftime on the road, the Jets had been 0-71.
It was a collective breakdown, aided by errant throws from Fitzpatrick, a stalled rushing attack, dropped passes and poor defensive coverage. The offense looked so out of sync that Hall of Famer Joe Namath called for Fitzpatrick to be benched for backup Bryce Petty.
A day later, Fitzpatrick shouldered the blame for his poor play and said of Namath’s critique: “I understand it 100 percent.”
“The biggest thing is: I haven’t played well,” the 12-year veteran said, adding that he and the offense have “definitely played below expectations. I think that’s where it starts. Offensively, if your quarterback’s not playing well, then you’re not going to play well on offense . . . I think as I play better, the offense will do the same.”
Coach Todd Bowles said the “character and our leadership in the locker room” gives him confidence that his team still can turn around its season.
“None of these wins are going to be easy. Believe me, every week is going to be a battle cry,” he said. “But we were losing these games in the first part of the season.”
But “confidence levels are rising,” Harris said. And in the building, the momentum shift is palpable.
Fitzpatrick’s conference call with reporters was briefly interrupted by buddy Brandon Marshall, who shouted: “Ooh, baby, we’re on a winning streak! Two games in a row!” into the phone before breaking into the “J-E-T-S” chant.
Said Fitzpatrick: “I’m proud of the way that the guys have come to work every single day and continue to fight and continue to practice hard. I think that will pay dividends for us in the second half.”