New York Jets Player Spotlight: Ryan Fitzpatrick
When talking about the New York Jets, it is only natural for fans to focus on the quarterback position, especially their only veteran option in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Quarterback has traditionally and consistently been a problem area for the organization, forcing fans to always hold out hope that a franchise quarterback will be discovered next year. Here at The Jet Press, we have extensively discussed quarterback options for the upcoming season. We have debated if youngsters Geno Smith or Bryce Petty could thrive this year, or if the Jets should instead try to trade for a quarterback.
In the midst of all these discussions, however, is the forgotten quarterback in Fitzpatrick. Who is he, and is he a relevant player for the Jets?
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To put it simply, Fitzpatrick is a journeyman. He has experienced enough success to stay in the league, but not quite enough to stick around with any particular team for an extended period of time (he’s played for 6 teams in 10 seasons). Because of this persona, the Jets were able to acquire him cheaply from the Houston Texans (7th round pick).
Despite his pedestrian career numbers (123 TD/ 101 INT) and advanced age (32), there are two significant reasons that Jets fans should be excited about Fitzpatrick.
First, although Fitzpatrick is far from elite, he is a consistently league average quarterback. For a team that traditionally has great defenses and horrific quarterback play, the Jets would welcome an average quarterback with open arms. To further illustrate this point…
- Fitzpatrick has managed to throw more touchdown passes than interceptions for each of his last 5 seasons. The last Jets quarterback to throw more touchdowns than interceptions in a season was Mark Sanchez in 2011.
- Fitzpatrick has completed at least 60% of his passes for each of his past 4 seasons. The last Jets quarterback to post a completion percentage of 60 or higher for a season was Brett Favre in 2008.
- Fitzpatrick has posted a quarterback rating of 82 or higher for each of his last 3 seasons. The last Jets quarterback to have a season with a 82+ quarterback rating was Chad Pennington in 2007.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and “desperation” barely begins to describe the Jets relentless struggle to find a competent signal caller.
In addition to him bringing consistent and average play to the team, Jets fans can also be excited that Fitzpatrick is being reunited with coach Chan Gailey. While playing for the Bills, Fitzpatrick showed that he can thrive in Gailey’s spread offense.
Going into the 2015 season, Jets fans are hoping that Smith can finally take a big leap forward. Smith is young, and provided he can learn to make better decisions and reads with the football, would provide the Jets with the most potential at quarterback.
However, unlike in previous seasons where the Jets were relying entirely on young unproven quarterbacks to carry the team, this year the Jets have an established Plan B.
If Geno loses the starting job, look for Fitzpatrick to have a big season. In fact, given Fitzpatrick’s veteran experience, his reunion with Gailey, and the opportunity to work with a great receiving corps (Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley), a career year of 25 TD passes, 15 INT, and a 60+ completion percentage is a realistic projection. Quarterback numbers in this range, coupled with a defense that should rank in the top 5 in the league, could easily carry the Jets to a winning record and a potential playoff berth.
Next: New York Jets Player Spotlight: Eric Decker