(Neil Miller / Sportsday Wire)
Ryan Fitzpatrick had an impressive debut as the Jets starting quarterback on Sunday in their 31-10 Opening Day win over the Browns.
Fitzpatrick threw for two touchdowns, along with 15-for-24 passing for 179 yards, and an interception.
As he did throughout training camp, Fitzpatrick provided stability in this one. He worked masterfully with wide receivers Brandon Marshall, who is also new to the Jets, and Eric Decker, who is in his second year in New York.
It was quite a contrast to see Fitzpatrick managing the Jets’ offense compared to sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel, who came into the game during the first half when Josh McCown had to leave due to a concussion.
The Jets’ offense also hasn’t looked this good since 2010, when Mark Sanchez had Braylon Edwards, Plaxico Burress, and Santonio Holmes. Since then, the combination of shaky quarterbacks (Sanchez, Geno Smith) and a thin receiving corps are the biggest reasons the Jets haven’t been in the playoffs in four seasons.
Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass to Eric Decker from 15 yards out to make it 14-10 Jets with 26 seconds left in the first half.
On the touchdown pass to Decker, Fitzpatrick said, “It was at the end of the two-minute drive and just a play that we had called, that I knew Eric was going to find the right spot and it was nice. It was just nice because of the anticipation, because of kind of knowing where he was going before he was there and all that, there were some good things on that play.”
It wasn’t long that Fitzpatrick followed that up with another touchdown pass, this one from a yard out to Brandon Marshall that made it 21-10 Jets at the 7:51 mark of the third quarter, and they never looked back.
On if seeing Brandon Marshall in the red zone is a favorable matchup, Fitzpatrick said, “Yeah, he’s a big, physical guy and that’s where he has to make his money. He’s got to earn it. Brandon has done that a lot in his career and hopefully he’ll continue to do it, but we’re going to give him the opportunity for sure.”
On Monday at practice, Fitzpatrick said of any personal satisfaction after yesterday’s win, “No, it’s one game. For us, it’s not about one game, it’s the long-haul and just getting better each and every game. Personal satisfaction will not be there until the end of the year if we accomplish all of our goals. Right now, it’s nice to come in with a win, but we have a lot of work to do. We have a road game coming up, we have a Monday night game versus a great Indy team and so, we have our work cut out for us.”
Fitzpatrick said of anything that stood out to him after watching Sunday’s film, “I think there’s a lot of stuff we could improve upon. I think we knew that coming out of the game. But, just looking at it, whether there’s certain runs, certain throws, certain protections, there’s a lot we can improve on from that game. It’s nice to come in with a win, everybody’s in good spirits, but we know we have to get back to work and we have to continue to get better.”
On how much of an emphasis there was to get rid of the ball quickly on Sunday, Fitzpatrick said, “With Chan’s (Gailey) offense in general, the ball’s coming out, I think everybody knows that. We put a huge emphasis on not taking sacks as a quarterback and being smart with the ball. You never know going into a game what kind of defense they’re going to play or how they’re going to play you on third down, but we did a good job of protecting up front.”
Jets running back Chris Ivory had a big day, with 20 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzpatrick said of what stuck out to him about how Chris Ivory played, “He just goes about his business. He, at times, he’s seeking contact. He’ll break through the line, he’ll show speed, but sometimes those safeties come up to tackle him and he’s not trying to go left or right, he’s going to go right at them. I think as the game went on he wore those guys down a little bit and they were a little less enthused to tackle him as he burst through the line.”
On how good he thinks this offense can be, Fitzpatrick said, “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 said of what the offense can improve on, “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. 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.”