FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Ryan Fitzpatrick is ready for the regular season.
No, the New York Jets’ starting offense didn’t exactly light it up during the preseason. That doesn’t mean the veteran quarterback is worried.
“Yeah,” Fitzpatrick said sternly, “there’s not much concern about any of that.”
With the starters, Fitzpatrick went 16 of 29 for 183 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a lost fumble in three games.
There were also a few errant passes mixed in and not much resembling the offense that finished 10th overall in the NFL last season, led by Fitzpatrick’s franchise-record 31 touchdown passes.
But then again, it’s still just the preseason. Right?
“I think we’re ready to move on and get going for the regular season,” Fitzpatrick said after practice Monday.
“Just to get everybody out there and have everybody healthy and going for the start of the season, I think was goal No. 1 and I think we’ll be there. So that’s important. But I’m excited to see what’s to come for us on offense.”
Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey kept things pretty vanilla during the first three preseason games for his starting unit. That’s no surprise there, but the fact the offense struggled at times and Fitzpatrick didn’t appear particularly sharp had some fans and media wondering if his contract situation is partly to blame.
Because Fitzpatrick didn’t re-sign until just before training camp began, he got no time on the field or in the classroom with any of his teammates during the offseason program. He has been working all summer to get back in synch with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and the rest of the playmakers on offense.
With Fitzpatrick in against the Giants, the Jets’ six drives went: punt, fumble, punt, punt, punt, touchdown to Eric Decker.
“We didn’t score as much, but I thought they worked themselves out of some jams,” coach Todd Bowles said. “We moved the ball a little bit and got stalled in the first drive. The biggest thing, you don’t like the turnovers.”
Bowles was encouraged by the fact that there were mistakes made that can be corrected before the games really count.
Fitzpatrick said the team has already begun some of its preparation for the Bengals, while also preparing for the preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday night. Most of the starters, Fitzpatrick included, won’t be playing in that one, though.
“It’s kind of a tough balancing act right now,” Fitzpatrick said. “Sometimes you can watch too much tape. So you want to prepare, but we’ve got some extra time after Thursday and Friday, that we’ve got that weekend and the next week, extra practice the next week. So we don’t need to go crazy on Cincy, but it’s definitely something we’re already looking at.”
The addition of running back Matt Forte could be a huge boost to Fitzpatrick and the offense because of his pass-catching ability out of the backfield. He’s two years removed from setting an NFL record for running backs with 102 catches.
He got some work in against the Giants after missing the first two preseason games while recovering from a hamstring injury. Forte finished with 28 yards on 10 carries and had two catches for 9 yards.
“We’ve got some stuff we can build on from last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve added a couple different pieces and just the creativity and the things that Chan is going to be able to do. Stuff that we haven’t really done in the preseason or practice much in training camp that he’ll kind of think of. And when we get into this game-planning mode, that’s when the stuff gets really exciting.”
While Fitzpatrick will be watching the preseason finale from the sideline, Bowles is still determining whether all three of the other quarterbacks play against the Eagles.
Geno Smith is currently the No. 2 quarterback, but could play a series or two. Bowles might opt to see more from Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, a second-rounder who was 6 of 16 for 105 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his NFL debut.
“I haven’t decided whether I want to play three or play two,” Bowles said. “Going forward, we’ll talk about it as a coaching staff and we haven’t talked about it yet. We still have some days to go.