New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) is sacked by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip
November 23, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Ryan Fitzpatrick is still the New York Jets' starting quarterback - and he expects that to remain the case for at least the near future.

''Yeah,'' Fitzpatrick said during a conference call Monday. ''I do think I'm the right man for the job.''

Coach Todd Bowles said the Jets are sticking with Fitzpatrick despite the team losing four of its past five games after a 4-1 start to the season.

While some fans and media suggested the Jets might have a quarterback controversy brewing after a 24-17 loss at Houston on Sunday, Bowles dismissed that entirely.

In fact, the coach acknowledged that there was ''not much'' of a discussion by the team to perhaps switch to Geno Smith.

''We went over the film like we always do and we judge everybody and we rate every player,'' Bowles said. ''(Fitzpatrick) came out and he missed some throws, but like everybody else, he did a lot of things and we did a lot of things wrong as a group that we have to correct.''

Fitzpatrick threw interceptions to end each of the Jets' last two drives Sunday. He has thrown for 2,199 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, but also has 11 interceptions. His 81.5 passer rating ranks him 27th in the NFL.

''I don't think a lot of throws are Ryan's fault,'' Bowles said. ''When you have a quarterback, you have to look at the overall scheme, not just the quarterback and as far as things are getting done, and a lot of times we just need to get on the same page. I think Ryan made some good throws. I thought he made some bad ones as well.

''But you don't give up on a quarterback just like that, because overall what he's done this year, he still proved he can do that going forward.''

Fitzpatrick has also established himself as a leader on and off the field for the Jets, and his status in the locker room has not changed in the minds of his teammates.

''It's never been a question,'' left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. ''He's definitely our leader.''

Fitzpatrick is playing through a surgically repaired left thumb, which was originally injured at Oakland on Nov. 1. He said he had no problems with his non-throwing hand in his first game since having the operation to fix a torn ligament, so that hasn't been an issue.

Fitzpatrick also was fine after taking a hard shot in which his helmet was knocked off during a late touchdown run against the Texans.

But the Jets' offense has been inconsistent for several weeks, and Fitzpatrick's play has been a large part of that.

Still, Bowles has declined to turn to Smith, who entered training camp as the starter but lost his job when he was sidelined several weeks after then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali broke his jaw with a punch. The Jets also have rookie Bryce Petty, who has lots of potential but is raw.

Things started off well this season for Fitzpatrick, who got the Jets off to a 4-1 start. With a prolonged slump, New York's playoff hopes appear to be dwindling, though - as questions increase as to whether Fitzpatrick can turn things around.

''I think, at this point in my career, I've learned a ton, in all the situations I've been in,'' said Fitzpatrick, in his 11th NFL season and on his sixth team. ''I have no problem shouldering any blame that gets thrown my way, and all the blame that I deserve and don't deserve.

''I think I'm the right guy to get this thing going back in the right direction.''

That all said, Fitzpatrick acknowledged that he hasn't played well the past few games. But, neither has the offensive line.

Or, the running game. Or, the secondary. And, so on.

The point is, the Jets have plenty of issues to correct with a crucial stretch coming up where they can get themselves back in the playoff hunt. Next up: the struggling Miami Dolphins at home on Sunday.

And, Fitzpatrick will be right back under center - just as he expected.

''Confidence is a lot of it,'' Fitzpatrick said, ''just getting some of that swagger back.''

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

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