Ryan Fitzpatrick could become a victim of quarterback purgatory
As the New York Jets brought back quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, he might be headed to quarterback purgatory due to the unknown factor he brings heading into 2016.
When the New York Jets made the long-expected decision to come to an agreement with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, they signed up for another year of the unknown. We may never know if Geno Smith could’ve been the guy. In fact, this might mean the Jets have realized what everyone else has: they are the home to a quarterback purgatory.
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A dictionary definition of purgatory describes the place as “any condition or place of temporary punishment, suffering, expiation, or the like”. This perfectly describes what it has been like for Jets quarterbacks over the years.
Let’s say Fitzpatrick has another decent year with the Jets. Maybe they make a playoff run. Suddenly, Fitzpatrick is a free agent once again, except this time he is a free agent with leverage. What do the Jets do then? Do they pay for a guy who would be 34-years-old at that point, or give the reigns to a guy who would be an unknown?
The alternative is that there is no Fitzmagic, and the Jets suffer through another season of mediocre play at the most famous position in sports. The Jets finish with a record somewhere between 6-10 and 8-8 (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility given the schedule) and they are back to square one with the quarterback position.
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Smith is already deemed stale as he would be heading into his fifth year and the Jets would be left not actually knowing definitively if Smith was a quality quarterback.
We would be left with a relative unknown again at the position, or another journeyman.
Fitzpatrick has been an NFL quarterback since 2005. In that time, he has started 105 games.
The Jets have had 15 quarterbacks start a game since 2005.
They have collectively thrown 192 touchdowns and 193 interceptions across 176 starts. That includes Fitzpatrick’s 31 TD/15 INT performance last year. The tenure of a Jets’ quarterback usually barely lasts more than a season (17.6 games on average as a starter). They also have averaged about 165 yards per start. The collective play of Jets quarterbacks across 11 seasons mirrors that of any journeyman campaign.
Fitzpatrick, in 105 starts across 11 seasons, has been remarkably better than the collective effort of Jets quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick averages about 204 yards per start, has a TD-to-INT ratio of 1.33, and a completion percentage north of 60%. So, the question the Jets need to ask themselves, is this a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, are the Jets just bad at picking quarterbacks, or are they not giving them enough of a chance (see the 17.6 game average tenure and 15 quarterbacks to start in 11 seasons)?
Jul 28, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) speaks to the media during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
After 11 years of that type of quarterback play, you can’t fault the Jets for seeing if “Fitzmagic” can strike twice in a row. However, at one-year/$12M, if the magic strikes again, can the Jets afford to make another commitment to Fitzpatrick at a larger dollar figure? This becomes a game of cat and mouse with the Jets’ quarterback situation as they have yet to establish consistency at the position.
Not only have the Jets had inconsistency at the quarterback position, as most of us know all too well, no team has drafted more quarterbacks since 1999 than Gang Green. What is the reasoning for this? Has it taken them this long to find the guy? Is Fitzpatrick the answer? The problem is, that by not stretching their dollar a little more and offering Fitzpatrick a multi-year deal, we may never truly know.
The fact that people seem to need to be constantly reminded of is the fact that Fitzpatrick isn’t as old as he seems. He’s 33. That’s not ancient for a quarterback. Tom Brady will be 39 by the time the season starts. Many may be shocked to hear that Eli Manning, quarterback of the cross-stadium rival New York Giants, is actually older than Fitzpatrick.
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If Fitzpatrick were to play three more years at last year’s rate, which isn’t that ridiculous to think of, he’d rank as a top three all-time quarterback in Jets career yardage and probably second to Joe Namath in lore. However, we may never have the chance to find out as quarterbacks are processed in and out of purgatory.