What a difference a week makes in the NFL. Last week, even through his postgame remarks after getting the relief win against the Ravens, Ryan Fitzpatrick expressed his displeasure at losing his starting job.
Today, with Geno Smith gone for the season with his knee injury, Fitzpatrick was back under center leading the first offense at practice. He wasn't retracting any of his postgame remarks, but he made it clear he knew that what had to be done for Sunday at Cleveland and into November is for him to play better.
"I was disappointed I got benched, but I was disappointed in the way that I had played, too," he said at his locker after practice, "so there's a lot of things that I'm continuing to work on but I continue to keep the faith in myself. ... We've just got to continue to move this thing in the right direction."
Specifically, turnovers provided many of the stress points in the Jets' 1-5 start. Fitzpatrick's 11 interceptions still lead the NFL and his 11 giveaways (no lost fumbles) are tied with three other QBs for most in the league. He had no giveaways as he took over for Smith and led the Jets from 16-14 down at halftime to the 24-16 win over the Ravens, which was a good start. But more needs to be done.
It began with today's first workday of the new week. Fans hate hearing it, but the session went well, and WR Brandon Marshall said it had a familiar feel to it.
"To be honest with you, it wasn't a big deal," Marshall said of shifting from Smith back to Fitzpatrick leading the first offense. "Our season has been filled with a lot of adversity, a lot of challenges, so the good thing is we just got a win so it feels good. When you win, you get seven days to enjoy it ... and when you lose, you get a day to get over it. We're enjoying the week, man."
The Jets Kicked Off Prep for Cleveland on Wednesday in Florham Park
Fitzpatrick said there's one metric that will tell early in Sunday's game against the winless Browns if another enjoyable week is in the offing.
"I've got to do a better job," he said. "I think the biggest thing is just generating more points, getting off to better starts. I think when you start slow and you fall behind, some of the turnovers and stuff follow that. So getting off to a better start and scoring more points early will help us out."
Certainly the Jets' record the last 1½ seasons bears this out. When they've taken a lead of four or more points in the first quarter, their record is 5-1 and their turnover margin is plus-12. When they've fallen behind by four or more points in the opening frame, their record is 2-5 and the TO margin is minus-10.
But the Ravens game is one of the outliers in this survey, as the Jets fell behind, 10-0, yet fought back for the win with a plus-1 margin. What more can be accomplished this year? Fitz was asked.
"We have to really put everything we have into Cleveland this week," he said, "and not really worry about our record or their record or how disappointing the season has been to this point. We won last week. We're going to try to capture that momentum and just continue to build each week. It was a good feeling last week to do that, in front of the home crowd especially, offense and defense feeding off of each other. It was just fun."
Statistical BookkeepingThe Elias Sports Bureau made a scoring change in Sunday's game that has made an impact in a few areas.
The change was that Baltimore QB Joe Flacco was charged with a 5-yard rushing loss in the fourth quarter. The play was changed from a rushing loss to a sack for the Jets, since it appeared that when a Ravens lineman accidentally tripped him up, he was en route to a play-action handoff.
The sack goes to Leonard Williams, who now has a team-leading six sacks for the season and is tied for sixth in the NFL.
Of course, taking the 5-yard loss away from the rush defense means instead of 12 carries for 6 yards, the Ravens wound up with 11 carries for 11 yards. The yardage is still the record for fewest rush yards allowed in a game in franchise history, but now only a single yard better than the 12 yards the Dolphins gained at MetLife last year.