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Less than a week after he was benched in favor of back-up quarterback Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick came off the bench on Sunday and delivered a win for the Jets.
Afterwards, he used his post-game press conference to rip the New York Jets front office and coaching staff for doubting him.
“The biggest thing in this game in order to last, is to have belief in yourself,” Fitzpatrick said. “Because when the owner stops believing in you and the GM stops believing in you and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself. That’s something that I’ve had to deal with before. That’s something I’m dealing with now.”
Against the Ravens on Sunday, Fitzpatrick started on the bench but was quickly called upon after Smith went down with a knee injury. Fitzpatrick then proceeded to go 9-for-14 for 120 yards and a touchdown, helping his team beat the Ravens and snap a four-game losing streak.
“I probably play better as an underdog pissed off,” Fitzpatrick said. “So going forward, yeah, I’ll be pissed off.”
He added: “There’s strong emotion there for me especially not knowing if that was the last time I was going to be out there as a starter or not. You start to think about some of that stuff. People giving up on you and then having to see them every day.”
The Jets are now 2-5, though their quarterback situation does not seem any clearer even after Fitzpatrick’s improved play against Baltimore. According to the Daily News, Smith was begging to go back into the game, and Bowles did not reveal which quarterback they would call the starter going forward.
Fitzpatrick, unsurprisingly, told the media that he is the best option.
“I don’t know what decision they’re going to make or what Geno’s health is going to be like,” Fitzpatrick said. “But, yeah, I think I should start every week.”
Other members of the Jets praised Fitzpatrick’s leadership abilities after the win on Sunday, which in some ways sounded like a subliminal vote of no-confidence for Smith.
“He takes control of the huddle,” Matt Forte said. “It looked like he was relaxed. … He came into the huddle and said, ‘What’s up, guys?’ Like he was new or something.”
The Jets still have an uphill battle to make the playoffs, and both Smith and Fitzpatrick will be free agents this off-season. The team has more problems than just the quarterback position, too.
But for now, Fitzpatrick is clearly the best option the team has at quarterback – whether or not any of the Jets management is willing to admit it or not.