Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick cuts beard in hopes of ending recent slump

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Slumping New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick wants to cut down his interceptions. While he addresses that issue, he figured he'd trim something else.

His scruffy beard.

"It seemed like it was time," Fitzpatrick said Wednesday. "Switch up the mojo a little bit."

He might have a point.

Fitzpatrick made headlines last November when he shaved his beard while starting for the Houston Texans. A few days later, he played the game of his life, throwing six touchdowns in a rout of the Tennessee Titans.

The well-traveled quarterback claimed that had no bearing on this week's decision. Aside from the mojo factor, he said he did it to look younger; he celebrated his 33rd birthday on Tuesday.

For the record, the beard isn't history. It's just ... well, less unwieldy.

Fitzpatrick also made a joking reference to Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan. Before facing the Jets two weeks ago, Ryan cracked, "The thing that's disappointing to me is that beard. I mean, you look at him like, 'Really, kid?' So he's not a real handsome kid."

Fitzpatrick said he wanted to open with a Ryan joke at the start of his Wednesday media session. Reporters urged him to tell the joke anyway, and so he did.

"This is what I was going to open with," he said.

He paused, trying to keep a straight face.

"Well, after the last few games, I decided I needed to look in the mirror and just try to figure out what I can do better," Fitzpatrick said. "When I looked in the mirror, I realized Rex was correct, and I was pretty ugly. And I think this is a better look for me right now."

It has been a rough patch for Fitzpatrick, who has thrown four interceptions in the past two games. The Jets (5-5), who face the Miami Dolphins (4-6) on Sunday, have dropped four of their past five. Fitzpatrick received a vote of confidence this week from coach Todd Bowles, but he could be running out of chances.

Fitzpatrick still has the respect of his teammates -- even without the usual amount of facial hair.

"It's difficult to see a good beard go down," said center Nick Mangold, now the proud owner of the bushiest beard on the team.

Fitzpatrick polled his teammates, asking the question: To shave or not to shave? Wide receiver Brandon Marshall said it was a close vote.

"It was a team effort," he said. "I think we made the right decision."