You just can’t keep Fitz down. At least, not if you’re Jets owner Woody Johnson (who the QB singled out in his postgame presser last week), Mike Maccagnan (oh wait, forget singled out), Todd Bowles, Chan Gailey, Rich Kotite (hasn’t he suffered enough?), Geno Smith, Bryce Petty or Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
Ryan Fitzpatrick called out just about everyone imaginable after a not-bad performance vs. the Ravens, leaving out only the guy who set up Hillary Clinton’s email server and Fitz’s third base coach from little league, who apparently refused to wave in the 9-year old once even though he would’ve clearly beaten the tag.
Fitz is thin-skinned, but hard-headed. Smith -- who Bowles reluctantly gave the starting role against Baltimore because the Amish Rifle misfired so much in the season’s first six games -- was able to hold off the bearded one for less than one half of football before likely ending his Jets career with an ACL injury. Third-stringer Bryce Petty couldn’t even manage that. The second-year man was all set to relieve Fitz after he took a helmet-to-helmet shot against Browns rookie DB Boddy-Calhoun that knocked the QB’s helmet clean off.
However, before Petty could even take his first official snap as a pro, Fitz was back in the game, though he played the rest of the first half vs. Cleveland as though his head was somewhere else. The Jets QB connected on just 3-of-14 passes in the first 30 minutes of play at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday, as the visitors left the field down by 13 to the NFL’s lone winless team. Gang Green finished the half with 24 passing yards, while Cleveland’s Josh McCown -- active after five weeks out with a broken collarbone -- was well over 200. Terrelle Pryor, himself a QB until recently, not only had Darelle Revis’ number, but he seemed to be renting it out to a local senior citizen who couldn’t hope to keep up with the fleet receiver.
Then came the second half, where the Jets and their QB played 29 minutes of nearly flawless football in coming back for a 31-28 W. Everything clicked in all phases, including special teams, where rookie Juston Burris artfully downed a Jets punt at the 1-yard line late in the game. Bowles was even on top of his game when it came to tossing the challenge flag, leading to a crucial replay reversal in the closing minutes. OK, it’s the Browns. But it’s also an NFL road win.
Fitz and the Jets are still on very shaky ground. At 3-5 halfway through the season, the playoffs remain a long shot. As for the QB, the hard head bangs both ways. His toughness may be unmatched, but the 12-year pro still makes too many dumb throws. Ten of his passes were deflected on Sunday. If Cleveland holds on to one or two, it’s a whole different ballgame.
But, at least for now, it looks as if Petty may not get that first snap for a while.