The Sunday notes -- a look at what's going on around the New York Jets:
1. A big D for Ryan F: Ryan Fitzpatrick has experienced a lot in his 10-year career, but he's never played on a team with a top-1o defense (based on yards allowed). His five previous teams ranked anywhere from 12th (Cincinnati Bengals, 2008) to 26th (Buffalo Bills, 2011). Truth be told, he played with some rotten defenses during his three-year run in Buffalo. That makes a huge difference for a quarterback, knowing you have to score a lot to win because the defense can't be trusted. If you're a Jets fan, trying to rally around Fitzpatrick as the season approaches, this is reason for optimism. Their shaky start notwithstanding, the Jets should have a top-10 defense, easing the pressure on Fitzpatrick. He can appreciate that.
"Sometimes I've fallen into that trap, trying to do too much," Fitzpatrick told me. "As I've grown the last few years, I've become better at that, playing within myself."
Fitzpatrick gave a lot of credit to his previous head coach and offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien and George Godsey of the Houston Texans. Consider this compliment: "I probably learned more about football last year than I had the rest of my career in a single season in terms of being able to see the game from a different angle." That's high praise, considering Fitzpatrick spent three years in Buffalo with his current coordinator, Chan Gailey, a coach he admires.
The Texans had a solid defense last year (16th in yards, seventh in points allowed), and Fitzpatrick finished with a career-high 95.3 passer rating. Coincidence? If you're a Jets fan, you hope not.
2. Traveling men: Fitzpatrick and newly-signed quarterback Matt Flynn have spent their careers crisscrossing the NFL. Each quarterback has been employed by six different teams. Fitzpatrick is 32, Flynn 30, so there's still time to touch 'em all. They have something else in common: They're two of only eight active players to throw six touchdown passes in a game.
3. Thinking like a QB: Eric Decker is one of the most cerebral wide receivers you'll find in the NFL. He's so into the X's and O's that he likes to sit in quarterback meetings during lunch or whenever he gets a break at the facility. He did it in Denver, where the big guy in the room was Peyton Manning. Decker told me, "I've always tried to do that, because I think it's the smartest position on the field. If you can see the game through the quarterback's eyes, it gives you an advantage as far as reading defenses."
Decker has been impressed by the manner in which Fitzpatrick conducts himself in the meetings. He said it's not unusual to see Fitzpatrick quiz the other quarterbacks on the specifics of a particular play call -- the protection schemes, the sight adjustments, hot reads, etc. Decker said, "He prepares like every play is game-like." It reminds him of Manning's famously meticulous preparation. That can't be a bad thing.
4. Geno back to work (sort of): Injured quarterback Geno Smith watched Friday night's game from a luxury box at MetLife Stadium. He probably would've preferred to be with the team, but coach Todd Bowles has a rule: No injured players on the sideline. It's a safety reason. Presumably, Smith will be cleared by doctors to return to the facility on a full-time basis, allowing him to attend meetings. He's still at least a week away before he starts light physical activity, per Bowles.
It's interesting: Smith's broken jaw, courtesy of IK Enemkpali, has revived some of the criticisms that dogged him before the 2013 draft, with talent evaluators questioning his leadership. One personnel executive said the Jets are "better off" with Fitzpatrick than Smith. Folks around the league noticed that no one on the team defended Smith in the immediate aftermath of the altercation. Brandon Marshall did, but it took him a week to step up.
5. Tight end in a tight spot: One player on the (moderately) hot seat is Jace Amaro, who has a lot to prove after a so-so rookie season. It raised eyebrows when he was listed as the No. 3 tight end on the first official depth chart. I've heard the organization has "mixed" feelings about Amaro, according to a league source. Remember, this is a new regime; Amaro is a holdover from the previous administration. I'm not saying they're going to unload the guy -- he could miss the preseason with a sprained shoulder -- but it'll be worth watching. The same goes for wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who has lost playing time to Quincy Enunwa. I know for a fact that teams are paying attention to the Kerley situation.
6. Motley crew: So let's catch up with the 2013 draft. The first pick (Dee Milliner) is injured yet again; the second pick (Sheldon Richardson) is facing a suspension; the third pick (Smith) got punched out by a teammate; the fourth pick (Brian Winters) can't crack the starting lineup; and the fifth pick (Oday Aboushi) is facing a suspension ... if he doesn't get cut first. Rex Ryan's A-plus grade for the draft, which he declared at the end of the '13 season in an obvious suck-up to then-general manager John Idzik, seems laughable now.
7. From heady moment to a headache: Things change quickly in the NFL. On Wednesday, rookie safety Durell Eskridge was talking excitedly about the prospect of seeing his boyhood friend, Devonta Freeman, at Friday night's game. He knew Freeman wouldn't play -- the Atlanta Falcons' running back is recovering from an injury -- but he said it was a lifelong dream for them to be together in an NFL stadium. They share a remarkable story. Eskridge also was eager to face his old Syracuse teammate, Jerome Smith. That meeting didn't go well. Eskridge came up to tackle Smith, showing no fear against the 226-pound running back, and he wound up sustaining a concussion. There's nothing worse for an undrafted free agent than an injury. You can't make the club in the tub, as they say. Eskridge began camp as a long shot; now he could be a longer shot. But, hey, he has overcome greater hardships in life.
8. Miles gets a leg up: The happiest player in the postgame locker room probably was safety Rontez Miles, who scored on a 57-yard fumble recovery. In fact, he saved the ball and had it in his locker. He's come a long way. Late last season, he underwent emergency surgery because he developed compartment syndrome, a dangerous build-up of pressure in his lower right leg. If it hadn't been discovered so quickly, it might have resulted in amputation. Now he has a legitimate chance to make the roster. Speaking of his touchdown, Miles said, "Man, it felt amazing, man. I'm still trying to grasp it."
9. Four! It looks like the Jets will carry four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster -- Fitzpatrick, Flynn, Smith and rookie Bryce Petty, who made nice strides in his second outing. Some teams keep only two quarterbacks. Obviously, it will have a trickle-down effect, leaving them short in a couple of areas. It may limit them to only five wide receivers, which will make for some tough decisions. This will take some creative roster management by general manager Mike Maccagnan.
10. Tick, tick, tick...: It's Aug. 23 and Muhammad Wilkerson still doesn't have a new contract. His self-imposed deadline is Week 1, which means it's 21 days and counting.