Jets GM has ‘no regrets’ about bringing Fitzpatrick back

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)
New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — It took all offseason for Mike Maccagnan and Ryan Fitzpatrick to agree on a deal to bring the veteran quarterback back to the New York Jets.

Maccagnan is still glad the reunion happened — even if it all went wrong this season.

During a nearly 40-minute sit-down with reporters Wednesday, the Jets general manager discussed several issues as New York enters its bye-week break at a dismal 3-7. He said the team is “obviously disappointed” about its record, but insists re-signing Fitzpatrick to a one-year, $12 million deal was the right move.

“I have no regrets about bringing Ryan back,” Maccagnan said. “I think going into it, we felt very good about the season Ryan had previously. So I have no regrets from that standpoint.”

Fitzpatrick set a franchise record last year with 31 touchdown passes while leading the Jets to a 10-6 record and within a victory of a playoff appearance.

After the season, it appeared merely a formality that Fitzpatrick would be back. But the sides got locked in a contract stalemate that dragged on for months, ending only on the eve of training camp in July.

Big things were expected for the Jets, especially with their record-setting quarterback in the fold again. But the offense got off to a lousy start and Fitzpatrick was benched as the Jets opened 1-5. He regained his starting spot when Geno Smith was lost for the season with a knee injury less than two quarters into his latest — and, possibly, last — opportunity with the Jets. Fitzpatrick returned until a sprained knee gave Bryce Petty the start last Sunday against Los Angeles.

“Of course, I think everybody, and Ryan included, would probably say he holds himself to a fairly high standard,” Maccagnan said. “I’m sure there are aspects that he would like to … we all would like to have better success on the field as a team. But from the standpoint of bringing Ryan back, no, I don’t have regrets on that.”

Fitzpatrick leads the NFL with 13 interceptions against has just eight touchdown passes. It’s possible Fitzpatrick could never throw another pass for New York if the Jets decide to give Petty and/or second-round pick Christian Hackenberg the last six games to audition for the job for next season.

That’s a decision, Maccagnan said, that will ultimately be made by coach Todd Bowles, who’ll consult with his staff and the GM. Bowles said Monday his decision will be based on who he believes gives the team the best chance to win.

“From my standpoint, you like to see young players play,” Maccagnan said. “But you also want to make sure they’re ready for that. To me, it’s a more complicated decision than some people realize.”

With both Fitzpatrick and Smith scheduled to be free agents in the offseason, the Jets will have no established quarterbacks on their roster.

“It’s not necessarily unnerving,” Maccagnan said. “We feel good. We have two young quarterbacks to work with and grow and develop, and we’ll see how we address this going forward.”

As for Bowles, Maccagnan was supportive of the second-year coach, but added that everyone in the organization needs “to do better at our jobs.” There have been quite a few bumps in the road for Bowles, a former defensive coordinator who was highly regarded around the league before being hired last year to replace the fired Rex Ryan.

Play calling, clock management and his overall approach have been questioned at times, particularly with missteps by players — most notably Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson being benched for a quarter for being late for a team meeting — creating the perception the Jets are dysfunctional.

“We knew there would be adversity along the way, but he’s very consistent and very focused,” Maccagnan said. “And I think he has a very good pulse on the team and the locker room. I do think he’s going to be a very good head coach in this league.”

Maccagnan punted on talking about possible moves or decisions beyond the season, preferring to focus publicly only on this year right now. But he also knows the next six games will go a long way in helping determine the franchise’s future.

“We do know where we want to be eventually,” Maccagnan said. “We do feel good about some of those things heading forward.”

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