The New York Jets traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick back in March, sending a conditional seventh-round pick for the veteran signal caller. The move ignited speculation about competition at the quarterback position with incumbent Geno Smith.
Fitzpatrick is a NFL journeyman. The Jets are his sixth franchise following stints with the St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans.
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In Houston last season, Fitzpatrick enjoyed an impressive season through 12 games with a 17 touchdowns to 8 interceptions, just under 2,500 yards and a rating of 95.3, highest of his career, as per NFL.com. Then he broke his leg and with that his season was over.
Now Fitzpatrick enters training camp with a somewhat uncertain future. The Jets have offered mixed signals on the quarterback situation. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey says Smith will be the starter while head coach Todd Bowles has suggested the best quarterback will start. Whether or not there’s a true competition is to be seen.
What we do know is Fitzpatrick and Gailey have history and proven chemistry. Gailey runs a spread offense the veteran QB excels in, as evidenced during their time together in Buffalo. Fitzpatrick has thrown more touchdowns in his 3 seasons with Gailey (71) than in seasons without (52) the new Jets’ offensive coordinator. This can be a gift and a curse as his interception rate was also higher in those three seasons.
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
At best, Fitzpatrick offers average play at QB. He’s not elite, or even close. For the Jets, average is the biggest gift under the Christmas tree after the Smith experience the last two seasons. Should he win the starting job, don’t expect the Jets’ offense to be incredible. What we can expect from Fitzpatrick is deep understanding of Gailey’s system with two above average starting receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker to make an impressive showing.
If offered enough reps with starters during training camp, Fitzpatrick has a good chance at showing up Smith and stealing the starting job. The consensus has been Smith needs to have an abysmal training camp and preseason for that to happen, but let’s not forget he’s still working on achieving average, something Fitzpatrick already is. If he doesn’t get the nod to start the season, the Jets still have a great option to back up Smith.