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Ryan Fitzpatrick is back with a vengeance on the Jets

Oct 23, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) drops back to pass against Baltimore Ravens during second half at MetLife Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Ravens 24-16.
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 23, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) drops back to pass against Baltimore Ravens during second half at MetLife Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Ravens 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick fired back at the New York Jets due to his recent demotion. Now, he’s back with a vengeance to prove his worth.

The sirens reverberated as the New York Jets stormed the field before the game this past Sunday, waiting for the starting lineup to be announced. As the announcer named the starting receivers, running back and linemen, next up was the quarterback. “And #7, Geno Smith!” yelled the announcer booth.

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For the first time this season, following a 1-5 start for the team, it was Smith who took over for Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter. Fitzpatrick stood there, hopeless and visibly upset, with a hat on his head and clipboard in hand, watching the starters take the field. One of the most demoralizing feelings any athlete can have is to have a starting spot stripped, especially being a seasoned veteran like Fitzpatrick. One who has been at the realm at quarterback for the Jets since the start of last year.

Smith got off to a relatively uneventful start to the game, throwing 4-8 for 95 yards and a touchdown, including a 69-yarder to Quincy Enunwa. But all it took was one sack by Matt Judon of the Baltimore Ravens that took out Smith’s knee and forced him to be ruled out for the game.

So in came Fitzpatrick, once again, behind center as the starting quarterback. “He came in the huddle and said, ‘What’s up, guys,’ like he was new or something,” Matt Forte said, per Steve Serby of the NY Post. “He likes to keep it loose and have fun.” And he wasted no time, marching the Jets down the field late in the first half on a drive that culminated in a 13-yard touchdown dart to Forte, trying to prove to his coaches that perhaps it was a mistake to bench him in the first place.

Fitzpatrick has been in the league for 12 years now and it would be an understatement to say that this was probably one of the most humiliating and humbling experiences of his NFL career. But perhaps the competition brought the fire out of Fitzpatrick, as he looked poised and ready to go.

After the game, Fitzpatrick voiced his displeasure with the coaching in their decision of benching him: “When the owner stops believing in you and the general manager stops believing in you and coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself,” Fitzpatrick said, per Cameron DaSilva of FoxSports.

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Many fans might argue that Fitzpatrick shouldn’t be talking after leading the team to a 1-5 start and leading the league in turnovers as well. But fans need to flashback to just a year and a half ago before Fitzpatrick was signed. That season, the Jets were 4-12, one of the worst in the league, with Smith as the starter on a pathetic team.

Fitzpatrick came just 100 yards short of Joe Namath‘s record for yards. He took a defeated and hopeless team and gave them confidence and a new leader. Smith has been nothing short of problematic for the Jets and shows no signs of leadership whatsoever since being drafted.

In sports, occasional competition can motivate and spark a team or an individual, bringing out the passion for the game. In fact, some of the best players in all of sports went through difficult times through their course of their careers.

Just as Fitzpatrick has this year. In the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Blackhawks’ goalie Corey Crawford was benched for Scott Darling for several games. Crawford won the job back and helped carry the ‘Hawks to win the Cup.

In last year’s NBA Finals, Kevin Love was replaced by Tristan Thompson for his deficiencies in rebounding and defense. He won the job back and was a key component to the Cavs’ conquest of the title. Perhaps Fitzpatrick’s benching may be the beginning of a new season for the  Jets, despite getting off to a 1-5 start.

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After playing five playoff teams from last year’s playoffs through the first six weeks of the season, the Jets remaining schedule features no teams from the playoffs. With the exception of course of Tom Brady‘s New England Patriots. Next week, the Jets travel to face the winless Cleveland Browns who lost their sixth quarterback of the season last week. With Smith ruled out for the season with a torn ACL, it is Fitzpatrick’s show once again, with a lot to prove.

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