Ryan Fitzpatrick’s benching was short-lived and didn’t even last a half.
The embattled journeyman got another shot at reclaiming his starting job after Geno Smith left the game with a knee injury in the second quarter. Fitzpatrick guided New York to a 24-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, throwing for 120 yards and a touchdown on a screen pass to Matt Forte.
Fitzpatrick had an awfully large chip on his shoulder after the game and offered some candid remarks in his postgame press conference. Fitzpatrick said the Jets’ brass stopped believing in him, according to Newsday’s Kimberley A. Martin. He also admitted that the situation of being benched, then re-inserted into action was “pretty ironic,” according to The Record’s Andy Vasquez.
But Fitzpatrick’s best quote of the day truly described what his career has been all about.
“I probably play better as an underdog, pissed off,” Fitzpatrick said, according to NJ.com’s Darryl Slater.
So let’s get this straight: The same guy who threw six interceptions in a game feels he was given up on. It makes sense though, when looking at Fitzpatrick’s career arc. He made a name for himself as a former seventh-round pick out of Harvard, was rewarded with a six-year contract worth $59 million with the Buffalo Bills in 2011 before fizzling out and being let go two years later.
The same pattern occurred with the Jets, who acquired Fitzpatrick for a sixth-round pick in 2015 to be a veteran backup behind Smith. After Smith had his jaw broken, Fitzpatrick stole the starting job outright and threw a franchise record 31 touchdown passes before getting paid after a long contract stalemate.
Now, Fitzpatrick is back in underdog mode again. The problem is nobody knows who New York’s quarterback will be next weekend against Cleveland. Smith said he will undergo an MRI on his knee and hopes the injury isn’t serious.
In the meantime, nobody knows whether the underdog will get another chance.