A day later, Ryan Fitzpatrick was still in mourning. The Jets quarterback described the nights he goes through after games, and in particular Sunday night after the 22-17 playoff-snuffing loss to the Buffalo Bills.
"I think about stuff, things I could've done better or differently, whether it was a decision or a throw," he said at his locker today. "My wife laughs at me because I usually wake up 4:30 a.m., eyes open and just the game running through my head, good and bad.
"It was a similar thing this morning, just waking up early, thinking about it a little bit, and obviously coming in here today and just seeing the guys and being able to reflect a little bit on some of the good moments as well as some of the struggles. It's always helpful to grieve with other people."
The Fitzpatrick package — some great performances in this, his 11th season as an NFL QB, and the way he cares about his teammates and his team and the game — are reasons that his teammates and head coach Todd Bowles have said they want the potential free agent to return for another season in green and white.
"I try to let my agent handle a lot of that stuff, but this is obviously a place that I want to be," Fitzpatrick said. "It's a place that I'm comfortable with, but we'll kind of see how everything goes and a lot of that is out of my hands."
Pressed on if he thinks he will be with the Jets for the 2016 season, he said he hoped so.
"I don't really want to live with the hypotheticals, but I had a lot of fun this year," he said. "This is the most fun I've ever had in a season with the guys in this locker room, with the run we had there in December, so hopefully I can be back and we can continue to build on that."
Some will harp on the three fourth-quarter interceptions, but suffice it to say that no one is any more anguished than Fitz over the picks and the playoff berth that was lost down the stretch in Orchard Park. But the bearded QB has been much more than the sum of his INTs:
■ He didn't reach 4,000 passing yards, but he came extremely close, finishing with a career-best 3,905 yards, passing Vinny Testaverde (3,732 in 2000) and Ken O'Brien (3,888 in '85) to register the second-most yards in a Jets season behind Joe Namath's celebrated 4,007 yards in '67.
■ Conspiring with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Chris Ivory and the rest of the unit, he led the offense to 5,925 total yards, the most in a season in franchise history and good for No. 10 in the NFL this year, the first top-10 finish for a Jets O in the last 17 seasons.
■ Perhaps most intriguing, Fitzpatrick has been a catalyst in lifting two consecutive franchises out of the depths of a previous season. In 2013 Houston was 2-14. Last season Fitz started the first nine games and had a 6-5 record as a starter before breaking a leg as the Texans rose to 9-7, a seven-game improvement. The Jets last year were of course 4-12 and this year finished 10-6, tied for the second-biggest victory boost in franchise history behind the 1-15-to-9-7 jump from '96 to '97.
It used to be that we gave offensive lines five years to come together and players and drafts three years to prove themselves. Now it's season to season and Fitz, who called the Jets his fourth team in four years, knows it better than anyone.
"That's the NFL now. Every year there's such a big turnover in terms of who's on the team and who's not, whether it's young guys or old guys," he said. "You have to find a way. This year I thought we did a pretty good job of coming together and finding a way with guys that were new in an offense and haven't really played with each other. The more you can keep that together, the core group together, the better it is."
We'll see in the coming months what can be done about keeping the 2015 offense as together as much as possible for a run at 2016, and about keeping the QB who led it along for the ride.