The New York Jets finally agreed on a new contract with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick but they would have been just fine sticking with Geno Smith this upcoming season.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, the New York Jets have re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one year, $12 million contract for the 2016 season. However, the season would’ve turned out very similarly whether it was Geno Smith or Fitzpatrick at the helm.
Smith does have some negative baggage, but it’s not like Fitzpatrick’s season in 2015 was all roses. Smith is willing to take chances, like many quarterbacks with an arm like his. That will lead to more interceptions, generally speaking. Smith has 35 interceptions on 852 career attempts for a 4.1 INT%.
Fitzpatrick is smarter with the football. He has 116 interceptions on 3,473 attempts for a 3.3 INT%. However, Smith has a rifle and while Fitzpatrick’s arm isn’t exactly a BB gun, it not as strong as Smith’s, which limits the offense.
Last season, the Jets forced 30 takeaways and they only scored 91 points off of those takeaways. Part of the reason they didn’t score as much is because of Fitzpatrick’s arm. As the season wore on, teams realized they didn’t have to fear the Jets taking advantage of the turnovers quickly, so they could stick to their game-plan.
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The Jets also didn’t have a speed target who could take short passes and burn a defense.
They had 1,866 yards after catch, which was 19th in the NFL.
Even with the addition of Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall, packed in defenses against Fitzpatrick’s arm may hurt their cause as well.
In 2014, Smith finished his season with a completion percentage of 59.7% and one interception per game.
Last season, Fitzpatrick finished with a 59.6% completion percentage and 15 interceptions in 16 starts. The last time Chan Gailey coached the same quarterback in back-to-back season as offensive coordinator, Jay Fiedler‘s completion percentage went from 57.1% to 60.7%. His yards went from 2,402 to 3,209, and his touchdowns went from 14 to 20.
With that being said, his attempts and interceptions went up as well, and those tend to go hand in hand. The more attempts a quarterback has the more likely he is to throw interceptions.
The Jets do have better running backs than the Dolphins did in 2000-01. So Fitzpatrick won’t need to pass as much. That means Smith wouldn’t have needed to either.
Last season, this coaching staff proved its worth. They proved they can take this team to record-setting heights. Now they just need to get back to where this team rarely has gone before, consecutive seasons with 10+ wins. Only time can tell if they can, but they have the pieces, they just need to execute, and they will make the NFL Playoffs this time around.