Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) and guard Brandon Brooks (79) walk off the field after a 30-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar
October 24, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't playing the way he wants to and knows he has to improve to help the Houston Texans get back on track after three straight losses.

''I know I can do better,'' he said. ''Some of it mentally, some of it physically, but my thing is just continuing to get better every week, continuing to understand the offense better, continuing to run it at a faster pace and mentally speeding everything up.''

Though there have been plenty of problems for the Texans, Fitzpatrick has received the lion's share of the criticism for the team's recent struggles. It doesn't bother the 31-year-old journeyman. He's heard it all before.

''It's definitely the way that it goes,'' he said Thursday. ''As a quarterback and especially as a guy that really started at the bottom and has kind of worked my way in in every situation I've been in, I've faced and heard a lot of that.''

He insists that he never lets outside opinions alter his view of himself or affect his play.

''You've got to have confidence,'' he said. ''You've got to believe and you've got to go out there and play.''

The quarterback is in his first season in Houston after spending last season with the Titans, who the Texans face on Sunday. He was penciled in to be the backup there, but was thrust into the starting role midway through the season after an injury to Jake Locker.

Fitzpatrick went 3-4 as a starter once Locker's season was done and was focused on doing more after winning the starting job in Houston this offseason. Things started out well for Fitzpatrick and the Texans, but mistakes by the quarterback and most everyone on the team has Houston in desperate need of a win.

One thing Fitzpatrick believes will help make that happen is getting the ball more to star receiver Andre Johnson, who has had five catches in two of Houston's recent losses and had seven receptions in the other one.

''My job is to get the ball to our playmakers,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I didn't get it to Andre nearly enough early.''

Johnson certainly wouldn't mind getting the ball more, but it irks him that most everyone outside of the team is blaming Fitzpatrick for the Houston's troubles.

''When you don't win, I think everybody needs to look at themselves and see what they can do better,'' Johnson said. ''We all need to pick our play up as a team, fix the mistakes that we're making and do what we need to do to win. I think you just can't dwell on one person.''

Fitzpatrick's 1,530 yards passing rank 17th in the NFL and he's tied for third-most interceptions in the league with seven. When asked what he wants to see from Fitzpatrick this week, quarterbacks coach George Godsey said he wants him to lead the team to touchdowns instead of field goals.

''Be efficient on offense,'' Godsey said. ''On normal downs, making the right decisions, going through his progressions in the passing game. On third down, finding a way to move the chains.''

The Texans struggled in previous weeks to start fast but changed that against Pittsburgh when they jumped out to a 13-0 lead. It was mostly downhill from there as Houston trailed 24-13 at the half and lost 30-23.

''We had some plays out there that we missed on that we just need to execute better,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''We just have to continue work on being efficient and effective the whole game long.''



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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