NY Jets 2015 Report Card: Quarterbacks
Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets enjoyed a solid season at quarterback in 2015, mostly thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick. How did each player grade throughout the year?
Wow, 2015 was easily the year of the quarterback for the Jets.
The first chapter written into the story of the Jets’ quarterbacks tale of 2015 was the Jets picking up former Houston backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in a trade on March 11. Which in hindsight, was one of the best moves the Jets made in last year’s off season.
It brought Fitzpatrick into reuniting with his old head coach from their days with the Buffalo Bills in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. During their tenure back then, they blossomed together which saw him complete 60.3% of his passes and threw for over 10,000 yards in his three seasons there.
Come the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jets got a diamond in the rough quarterback in the 4th Round by the way of the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year of 2013 in Bryce Petty. He wasn’t ready for the NFL when he was drafted but the potential is there as he’s being groomed for the future.
Coming into training camp, it was Geno Smith‘s job to lose after impressing in OTAs and mini camp. With his tenacity to learn and his improvement after a below par 2014, after the whole locker room incident that left him with that infamous jaw injury, he lost a golden opportunity to silence his critics. From that moment on, the starting job was given to Fitzpatrick who never looked back.
We are now going to go into a deeper look at all three players and give them each a grade.
Next: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to throw a pass during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 22 to 17. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Fitzpatrick: A-
The former Harvard standout had a career season this year with the saddle of the Jets’ offense in 2015 under extreme circumstances at the start of the season since he was told he was a starter during training camp. It effectively gave him six weeks to prepare to be thrown into the starting role come opening week.
The hallmark of Fitzpatrick’s season was his franchise record 31 touchdowns thrown which was a career high for him as well as passing for a mammoth 3,905 yards. Also another part of his game which was crucial at times in games, was him using his legs and more often than not picking up first downs and some touchdowns along the way.
Everything he did was successful in leading the team to a winning record for the first time since 2010 (10-6 ) as well as twice picking up AFC Offensive Player of the Week. In Week 13 against the New York Giants, he had an incredible game leading the Jets to an overtime win to keep the season alive when he completed 36/50 passes and accumulated 390 yards through the air for the game. It showed everyone that little bit of FitzMagic we have come to see over the season.
Going forward to 2016, it’s hard to see anyone else being the starting quarterback going into training camp that could replicate or surpass what Fitzpatrick accomplished. Of course he needs to cut out the inconsistency the offense had at times during last season, especially that tough season-ending loss to the Bills that saw him post one of his worst games of the year.
Next: Geno Smith
Nov 22, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) warms up prior to a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Houston won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
Geno Smith: C
The whole locker room incident put his potential breakout season on the backburner after being out for about four weeks with a broken jaw. Fitzpatrick blossomed as the Jets’ starting quarterback to the point where he put the team in the best position to win football games. This could have been a blessing in disguise for Smith since he was able to take a step back and really work on his craft.
Due to Fitzpatrick’s thumb injury, Smith was the starter for their Week 8 game against the Raiders where you can see there was some nice improvements from him during the small sample fans got to see. It was good to see the patience and maturity that he showed in this game.
He finished the game with a 87.5 QBR, completing 27 of his 42 passes with two touchdowns. Smith also showed his athleticism by scampering for a big first down pickup of 34 yards on the ground. He’s in a good position to keep improving heading into next season.
Going forward, it will be very interesting what the Jets do with Smith heading into the off-season but he will be looking if given the chance, to once again compete for the starting quarterback position on the Jets.
Next: Bryce Petty
Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) attempts a pass in front of Atlanta Falcons linebacker Stansly Maponga (90) during second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Bryce Petty: N/A
Petty came to Florham Park via the 103rd pick in last year’s draft with the reputation from many scouting reports as a quarterback with all the physical tools being 6’3 and 230 pounds as well as being labeled as ultra competitive. He’s also been labeled a fantastic leader by his fellow teammates at Baylor. Petty’s future is bright thanks to his fantastic mechanics and great pocket awareness.
With all these great attributes, there was the concern over his ability to fully understand an NFL offensive playbook. He’s a developmental kind of player for the Jets that they’re clearly trying to groom for the future.
When he got his chance in the preseason, he was impressive with showing the ability to make any throw in three games as he got fans of the Jets excited about the possibilities down the road. Who knows, he could finally be the franchise quarterback they’ve been looking for in years.
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Petty put up some solid numbers in those games, completing over 50% of his passes and doing his best to grasp the playbook. He wasn’t perfect but has the right mindset to only improve over time.
2015 really was a learning experience for him since he was able to learn from both Fitzpatrick and Smith while learning the ropes of watching game film and studying. All of which will make him a much better quarterback down the road.