Ryan Fitzpatrick’s First Start for Jets Is Brief, but He’s Happy


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Ryan Fitzpatrick (14), who has taken over for the injured Geno Smith, and the quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo during the first half of the Jets’ preseason opener Thursday against the Lions in Detroit.

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Duane Burleson/Associated Press

DETROIT — The Jets did something normal on Thursday: They played a football game without incident or swirling drama. Alas, they opened the preseason in underwhelming fashion, losing by 23-3 to the Lions at Ford Field.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, the new starting quarterback, played one series, completing 2 of 3 passes for 16 yards in leading the Jets on a 41-yard drive that culminated in a 34-yard field goal by Nick Folk. Bryce Petty, a rookie out of Baylor, took over at quarterback and played the rest of the game.

Despite the quick stint, Fitzpatrick assessed his start as a success. Coach Todd Bowles said he had not considered playing Fitzpatrick longer because he wanted to give Petty experience. Petty finished 10 of 18 for 50 yards and looked a bit overwhelmed at times by the Lions’ rush schemes.

“It’s always tough in the preseason to weigh repetitions versus health,” Fitzpatrick said. “Any time I get will be welcome. It was good just to be out there, throw the ball around to those guys, get into situations.”

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Fitzpatrick added: “I felt comfortable. It was nice, just the procedure of it, to get to run some silent counts, get the plays and motions communicated, not get any pre-snap penalties. In that regard, I thought we did a good job.”

Bowles purposely kept things simple for Fitzpatrick, recognizing that he had gone through only one day of practice with the starting team. Geno Smith had been groomed as the top quarterback until Tuesday, when he was sucker-punched by the reserve linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali in the locker room before the team’s morning practice.

Smith, who sustained a broken jaw, is expected to miss six to 10 weeks. He had surgery Thursday.

Enemkpali, who was immediately cut, was claimed off waivers Wednesday by the Buffalo Bills and rejoined his former coach Rex Ryan.

“I thought he did well,” Bowles said of Fitzpatrick. “I thought he commanded the offense. He was cool, calm and collected. Nothing big to brag about, but he did his job.”

Bowles conceded that the Jets were a work in progress, but he said he viewed their mistakes as issues to be corrected during the preseason. The biggest problem was poor tackling. The Lions carved up the Jets for 236 yards passing and 193 receiving. The Jets missed tackles throughout the game, resulting in big gains.

“I not concerned — I mean, it’s the first preseason game,” Bowles said. “We’ve got a lot of tackling to do. If the first group had played the whole game on both sides of the ball, and we got killed like that, I’d be a little bit more concerned. Third preseason game — I’d be a little bit more concerned. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I never said we’d be sharp right off the bat. We’ve got some stuff to look at, but it was good to get playing.”

Brandon Marshall, who said he was impressed with Fitzpatrick’s poise, did not seem concerned about an offense that generated 3 points and 67 yards rushing and 66 passing. Bilal Powell led the Jets with 35 yards on eight carries.

“It’s just football — we’ve been doing it since we were little,” Marshall said. “Just execute the plays that are called: He throws the ball; I catch the ball. He hands off; I block. Just got to keep building off our start today.”

“I am just moving forward,” Marshall added. “I think the whole team is moving forward. You will hear that echoed throughout this locker room.”



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