Ryan Fitzpatrick's first start as the New York Jets quarterback looked like someone who wanted to also finish the year as the team's starter. The veteran was efficient in leading the Jets to a 31-10 season opening win over the Cleveland Browns.
After a rough start including a second quarter interception (that was later fumbled by the Browns and then recovered by the Jets), Fitzpatrick would finish 15-for-24 for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He had a quarterback rating of 66.6 (last year, Geno Smith had a QBR of 44.3).
His burgeoning partnership with wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, both of whom had solid days, is a bit of potential for the Jets.
"I think we can be a really good offense. I don’t know what that really means at this point, but I think we’ve got, not only a lot of talent, but a lot of smart guys in that huddle and that’s really important in this league and we’re real competitive. It’s fun to be in that huddle. Even yesterday, we relied on the running game a lot, and the receivers were in to it. We want to win, we don’t care about the stats, we don’t care about any of that, we want to go out there and win the game. It was good to see that in the huddle yesterday" Fitzpatrick told reporters on Monday.
"I think experience, relying on past playing experience, also just guys that we can make adjustments on the sideline, we can see a look once and make sure the next time we get it, we’re going to beat it. Everybody is on the same page. Those are two of the biggest things I think when we talk about smarts on the football field that I’m talking about."
Fitzpatrick assumed the starting job when Smith was sucker punched by IK Enemkpali in a locker room dispute. In many ways it might be a blessing in disguise for the Jets as Fitzpatrick has had success in this very same offense under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who partnered with Fitzpatrick when he was head coach of the Buffalo Bills.
This background with Gailey coupled with the Jets slow start in the first quarter leads Fitzpatrick to think the Jets offense hasn't reached its potential yet.
"I mean, there’s a lot of stuff we can improve on, just in terms of some missed assignments and some communication stuff. We weren’t perfect on third down and even in the red zone there’s some stuff we could improve on in there," Fitzpatrick said. "Every week is a different challenge and Indianapolis is going to pose a much different challenge than Cleveland did, just by the type of defense that they run. We’ll just have to continue to get better."