New York Jets: Ryan Fitzpatrick is the answer they need


I have news for everyone: the New York Jets do not need a franchise quarterback. It may hurt for some of you to come to that realization, but it’s true. Granted, the offense wasn’t playing the ’85 Bears today, and it wasn’t Joe Montana the defense was looking to take down, but the Jets have an established identity that everyone can and should get behind. It’s clear. Would it hurt to have Aaron Rodgers or our pal Tom Brady behind center sporting the Green and White? Obviously no.

In today’s NFL, the passing game is all the rage. Nobody wants to run the ball. They HAVE to run the ball. With every play able to be viewed forever in posterity on social media, nobody wants to spend time watching a 250lb mound of muscle pound into a bunch of 350lb mounds of muscle for 4 yards. We watch games for plays like this:

Same player. Different uniform. Brandon Marshall scrapes the sky for his first @NYJets TD #CLEvsNYJ

— NFL (@NFL) September 13, 2015

Having two top receiving targets like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker can make any quarterback look good. Fitzpatrick did not have a spectacular day behind center, and that’s just fine. He did exactly what was needed of him. For the Jets in recent years, being a serviceable NFL quarterback is easier said than done.

The Browns are a mess offensively, but have a solidly average – maybe even above average – defensive unit. With the likes of Joe Haden, Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby, they shouldn’t be overlooked. Fitzpatrick didn’t look great, but he didn’t look bad, and honestly, that’s what counts for the Jets.

In previous years, the Jets were looking to their quarterback to increase the quality of play of his counterparts. In reality that only happens if you’re a pro-bowl quarterback. Rex Ryan constantly talked about how much of a fan he was of guys like Peyton Manning. It seemed like Rex was in relentless pursuit of his franchise quarterback.

Mark Sanchez didn’t work, and while the book isn’t closed on Geno Smith yet, Rex’s chase is what ultimately led to his downfall. I think it took a mutual split by Rex and the Jets to make this clear to both of them. Every quarterback can’t be a Hall-of-Famer, and Super Bowls have been won by teams without one.

Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back

Chris Ivory

(33) celebrates his touchdown run during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Browns 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Fitzpatrick certainly won’t be seeing his bust in Canton, and the next guy to lead the Jets – whether it’s Geno in Week 6, Bryce Petty next year, or someone else down the line – doesn’t need to either. Fitzpatrick’s play today (15/24 179 yards, 2TD 1INT) should show everyone that as long as the Jets have a defense that capitalizes on the opposing offense’s shortcomings and a running game that carries its share of the load with guys like Chris Ivory, then a stat line such as the one Fitzpatrick provided today can provide enough to win in the NFL.

Not too many teams have a top defense, a top running game, and a top passing game. Usually it’s a combination of 2 of those 3 that will make you successful, and the third part will play well enough not to cost you. Jets teams in the past have fallen victim to the big mistake from the quarterback.

The next Jets quarterback has to do 3 main things: take care of the football, take calculated risks and keep a level head. He doesn’t have to have the biggest arm. He doesn’t have to be the most mobile quarterback. He doesn’t have to win MVP. He doesn’t have to be a Pro Bowler. So the question is, who is the guy with this combination?

Fitzpatrick may have some of the traits the Jets should be looking for in a quarterback. He’s smart, doesn’t make any boneheaded plays, and seems to keep his cool. The problem is, he hasn’t put it together for a full season, and most of his chances to do so are in the rear view mirror. The Jets need a younger version of Fitzpatrick who can last a full season.

Maybe it’s Petty. Maybe Geno can mirror some of Fitzpatrick’s play. Maybe it’s Fitzpatrick himself if he can turn on some of his old Fitzmagic from Buffalo circa early 2011. The Jets have had it backwards. They’ve been looking for an answer when they should have been looking for the questions. The questions should be clear now. Now the answer just needs to be figured out.

Next: New York Jets: Eric Decker discusses big victory

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